We shopped at TJ Maxx and Saks Off 5th to see which store is better for discount shopping — and the winner was obvious

Shoshy Ciment/Business InsiderTJ Maxx is a discount haven.

Shoppers these days want a good deal. UBS analysts wrote in a recent note that a “cultural shift” is driving people to search for bargains over quality.

Luckily, the world of off-price shopping is a glorious place – especially if you’re on a budget. Within the discount-shopping sector, the options vary. Saks Off 5th, for example, has a huge selection of designer items for less. TJ Maxx is not as high-end but has consistently low prices.


Read more:
We compared the shopping experience at Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th, and there was a clear winner

The CEO of TJX Companies – the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods – said in May that tariffs and subsequent price hikes could benefit discounters and foster more business from bargain-driven consumers.

We shopped at TJ Maxx and Saks Off 5th stores in New York City to see which had a better shopping experience and which was more likely to draw customers in search of a deal.

Here was our experience:


First, we stopped by Saks Off 5th (which was actually off Lexington Avenue).

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The store advertised huge discounts, so we were excited to see the offerings.

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We were floored by the regal architecture of the store. The tall marble columns on the sides of the main room were magnificent. This may have been a discount store, but it sure didn’t look like one.

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We were greeted by a display of beauty products at the front of the store. We then made our way to the other sections.

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If we didn’t know, it would be hard to tell this store apart from a regular Saks Fifth Avenue. The store’s design was as chic and as pricey as some other department stores.

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Even the mannequins — bathed in neon pink light — looked trendy.

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We made our way to the handbag and purse collection. For the most part, the prices were still pretty high.

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This Valentino purse excited us until we saw the price tag — almost $US350.

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These glass-enclosed purses looked nice. We couldn’t find the prices on them, but our intuition told us they were probably expensive.

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The shoe section had every style from evening wear to sport.

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But once again, the prices were through the roof. These platform loafers were listed for almost $US600.

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Saks Off 5th felt like a regular department store through and through, from the prices to the design. We even heard a shopper mutter about not being able to tell the difference between this store and the regular Saks.

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Next, we headed to the clothing section. The quality here was high — and so were the prices. More than a few items were listed at over $US1,000.

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Saks Off 5th had a huge selection for the regular department store shopper. For the bargain shopper, not so much.

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As we left the store, it was hard to determine what made this Saks different from the original. Other than the location “off 5th,” this store still felt like a regular department store and not a good fit for a bargain shopper.

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Next, we stopped by the TJ Maxx in Manhattan’s Financial District.

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From the moment we walked in, we could tell this was going to be different from our experience at Saks Off 5th. The store’s design was more casual and looked the way we felt bargain shopping should.

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We were immediately swept away in the racks of the store’s main section. We sifted through the clothes in search of some deals. With hundreds of items to choose from, it wasn’t hard to find something we liked.

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We cannot say enough about the prices. We picked up this t-shirt for less than $US5.

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There were also some name-brand items that had great prices. This Vineyard Vines t-shirt was less than $US40.

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And this Dooney & Bourke bag was only $US99.99.

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The TJ Maxx Runway section in the center of the store had items on the more expensive side. This pink fluffy dress was $US699.99.

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But almost everything else in the store was a bargain. These pink gowns were only $US49.99 and perfect for wedding season.

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The undergarments section was teeming with great finds. A lot of items here were less than $US5.

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We also found these funny shirts with references to “The Office.”

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Unlike Saks Off 5th, TJ Maxx had a huge selection of home goods. We loved the Coca Cola tub ($US129.99).

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Downstairs, we followed our noses to this selection of scented candles …

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… which then led us to this wall of wicker baskets.

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Around the corner, we even found some food.

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The whole experience at TJ Maxx seemed engineered for the shopper in search of a quick bargain. There were even shopping carts available in some of the sections.

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We also found a phone-charging station in the middle of the store.

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TJ Maxx was the clear winner here. The plethora of options and unbeatable prices won us over. Next time we want to shop on a budget, we know where to go.

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