We shopped at TJ Maxx and Burlington to see which was a better discount store, and the winner was clear for a key reason

Business Insider/Jessica TylerBurlington was overwhelming to shop in.
  • TJ Maxx and Burlington are both thriving.
  • The variety of products, low prices, and increased demand for off-price products is part of the reason why.
  • TJ Maxx’s parent company, TJX Companies, reported on November 20 that comparable sales were up 9% at TJ Maxx and Marshalls in the most recent fiscal quarter.Burlington reported on Wednesday that comparable sales were up 4.4% in the third quarter.
  • We compared shopping at TJ Maxx and Burlington, and the winner was clear.

Off-price retailers are thriving as department stores struggle, and TJ Maxx and Burlington are no exception.

TJ Maxx and Burlington are both well loved by shoppers for a number of reasons, including the low prices both stores have on a huge variety of products.

TJ Maxx’s parent company, TJX Companies, reported on November 20 that comparable sales were up 9% at TJ Maxx and Marshalls in the most recent fiscal quarter. Likewise, Burlington reported on Wednesday that comparable sales were up 4.4% in the third quarter.

Both stores are benefiting from a disappearing middle class and a higher demand for budget options – two factors that have been hurting traditional department stores. In addition, because most TJ Maxx stores are located in suburban strip malls rather than shopping malls, it’s less likely to be affected by the declining foot traffic that has hurt malls and the retailers that depend on them.

While Burlington has 679 stores in the United States, TJ Maxx has more than 1,200.

When we visited New York locations of the two stores, we found that both of them carried name brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors at prices of $US35 or less. However, both stores were very cluttered.

But one store was better than the other for a key reason:


Burlington, in New York’s Flatiron District, was my first stop.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Christmas decorations and other seasonal products were set up to the left of the entryway.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Women’s clothing was on the right.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The aisles of women’s clothes seemed to go on forever.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The aisles were very narrow. It was impossible for two people to walk past each other without knocking something over.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was an overwhelming amount of clothing to go through. The store carried brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Michael Kors, and most products were under $US35.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were tons of jeans …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… jackets …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and clearance products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In the back of the store was a maze of handbags from brands like Juicy Couture and Betsey Johnson.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were also a few aisles of makeup and beauty products …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and even more women’s clothes. A lot of the displays in-store were pretty messy.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a lot of snacks and small products for sale by the register, which had a very long line.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

I took the escalator up to the second floor. The line was very long upstairs as well.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a few aisles of shoes …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… but a lot of shelves were empty.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The second floor also had toys and kids’ clothing …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… more clearance products …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a ton of men’s clothing. The store was very no-frills.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a tailor shop in the back of the floor, though the area around it was cluttered and messy.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

I was surprised to see the store had even more on the next floor. Upstairs, there were women’s coats …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… infant and toddler clothes …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a lot of baby products like car seats and strollers.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Home products were also upstairs.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It wasn’t the nicest store to shop in. It carried a ton of clothing, home products, and everything in between, at low prices, but it was very dark and dingy. The carpets were dirty, some of the lights were flickering, and it felt very cluttered.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Next, I went to TJ Maxx in the Financial District.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store had a much different atmosphere than Burlington right off the bat.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were still long, narrow aisles of clothes to go through …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… but it was much brighter, cleaner, and better organised than Burlington. The two stores carried most of the same brands, and the prices were comparable.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

TJ Maxx carried a ton of beauty products for the same prices as Burlington, but TJ Maxx had a greater variety of brands to choose from. The displays weren’t quite as messy.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were also handbags …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… toys …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and shoes on the first floor.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

On the other side of the first floor, I found a small clearance section …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and menswear.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a lot of similar products to choose from, but it was much less overwhelming than Burlington.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Downstairs, there were pots and pans …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a ton of other home products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It felt a little cluttered. Prices were about the same as Burlington on most products.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

By the register were small products and snacks, and the line was moving pretty quickly.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Both stores carried a ton of name brands at low prices, but TJ Maxx was more organised and brighter. It also had shorter lines and was an overall better shopping experience when we visited.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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