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In a Ross vs. T.J.Maxx smackdown, who comes out on top? Both are off-price retailers who offer killer deals. But how are they different? How does Ross versus T.J.Maxx pricing stack up? How about when you look at Ross vs. T.J.Maxx vs. regular retailers? I’ve got answers to these questions and more, including what happened when I spotted a factory outlet second at one of these two stores!
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1. How does Ross vs. T.J.Maxx pricing work?
T.J.Maxx and Ross offer low prices because they have multiple approaches to buying inventory. Aiming for 20% – 60% off, they buy stuff designers have overproduced or department stores have overbought. Sometimes they even buy inventory orders another retailer has canceled.
Overstock happens when bigger department stores, like Macy’s, buy merchandise under a “buyback clause,” meaning that if the merchandise doesn’t sell, the manufacturers must buy it back. Manufacturers often turn around and sell these items to off-price retailers like T.J.Maxx and Ross.
Since buyers from T.J.Maxx and Ross are hunting every day, they aren’t limited to seasonal items, and inventory rotates more frequently than in a department store.
2. Why is Ross so cheap?
To keep prices low, Ross buys sloppy seconds from factory stores. And those seconds were made-for-outlet. For example, I was surprised to spot Banana Republic items at Ross that I’m certain came from a Banana Republic factory store. So how was the price so low at Ross?
Ross sells made-for-outlet merchandise that isn’t the “real” thing!
When I ran across the cardigan in the picture above, the three squares on the brand tag gave it away. I knew it was a made-for-outlet item from a Banana Republic factory outlet. This means the items had never been in a full-line Banana Republic store. They were made with less-quality construction and fabric to be sold at a lower price point at the factory store.
No wonder the sweater was only $6.99!
Related: Learn more outlet shopping secrets so you can tell factory items from the real thing.
3. Beware, T.J.Maxx brand-name clothing may be a knockoff.
As one KCL reader pointed out and NBC4 Washington reported, T.J.Maxx licenses their own designer clothing using labels from well-known brands.
Yep, that piece you think is a Christian Siriano or Nicole Miller may be a design that T.J.Maxx bought in bulk and stuck that brand’s label on.
How can you find out if it’s a knockoff? Flip the care labels over (the long white stack of tags usually sewn into the side of the garment at the bottom), and see if the very last one has “TJX Europe, Watford” printed on the back. If it does, it’s not the real thing.
4. Should you buy jeans like Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger at T.J.Maxx or Ross?
In the battle of Ross jeans vs. T.J.Maxx jeans, Ross wins if you’re hunting down brands like Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger. Just don’t buy your jeans from a department store. That’s the moral of this story. And honestly, the T.J.Maxx jeans selection didn’t have much in the way of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. They seem to favor brands like Democracy, Lucky Brand, and Kensie. If you love CK and Tommy, shop at Ross.
Even though both of these jean brands are currently on sale at Macy’s, Ross is cheaper.
Calvin Klein jeans
- Ross: $24.99
- Macy’s: $69.50
Tommy Hilfiger jeans
- Ross: $24.99
- Macy’s: $37.99 (reg. $69.50)
5. Ross vs. T.J.Maxx: Calvin Klein and Adidas athletic socks? It’s a tie.
It’s safe to assume the moral of the story is that Macy’s is always more expensive than Ross and T.J.Maxx. The big headline here is that the two discount stores offer identical pricing on six-packs of men’s socks.
Here again we see that even when something is on sale at Macy’s, it’s still cheaper at Ross or T.J.Maxx. In this case, both.
Calvin Klein athletic socks
- Ross: $9.99
- T.J.Maxx: $9.99
- Macy’s: $15.95 (reg. $29)
Adidas athletic socks
6. Shop for Nike shoes at Ross and save 33%.
Finding Nike deals (shoes especially) at the discount stores can be like trying to hunt a cryptid in the wild. In a Ross vs. T.J.Maxx comparison, I recommend you start at Ross. The last few times I’ve tried to find anything Nike at T.J.Maxx, I’ve been disappointed. But Ross carries Nike shoes and sporting equipment on the regular.
Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus
- Ross: $49.99
- Dick’s Sporting Goods: $80.97 (reg. $119.99)
7. Shop at T.J.Maxx for higher-end brands and designers.
Once you know how to spot the potential fakes, as I mentioned above, you’ll be an expert at spotting the true designer brands.
Because T.J.Maxx buys from higher-end boutiques and manufacturers (including designers), you’ll find more and better brands there. Ross buys from less-expensive stores to begin with. Think middle-level department stores, like JCPenney.
Sure, you’ll find a gem at Ross every now and then. (I found a Dooney & Bourke handbag that retails for $288 for just $109.99 at Ross recently.) But if you’re a designer brand lover, head to T.J.Maxx.
Here are a few brands I noticed at T.J.Maxx just on one shopping trip recently. Ross either doesn’t sell these at all, or doesn’t have even close to the variety of inventory for the brand:
- The North Face
- Citizens of Humanity
- Michael Kors
TIP: If your T.J.Maxx brick-and-mortar store goes womp womp when it comes to designer handbags, check TJMaxx.com!
8. “Comparable Value” pricing on price tags is always lower than actual retail prices, thanks to lawsuits.
Both Ross and T.J.Maxx have been in legal trouble in the past for inflating “Comparable” pricing in order to make items seem like a better deal than they really are.
For example, noted in the T.J.Maxx class action lawsuit was a Michael Kors handbag that had a “Compare At” price of $328, but the retail price listed on the manufacturer’s website was only $228. These were the days when off-price retailers thought they were getting away with something. Luckily we smart shoppers are, well, smart.
Fast-forward to today. Comparable pricing on both Ross and T.J.Maxx tags will be lower than actual retail prices, presumably so the companies can cover their bases and ward off any more lawsuits.
For example, I found Calvin Klein jeans at Ross that list a comparable value of $35, but when I look for similar Calvin Klein jeans at stores like Macy’s, I can’t find a regular price pair for less than $69.50, which is also what the manufacturer’s price tag lists. (This isn’t including sale prices you might find at a department store. Discount retailers can’t keep up with sale prices and are comparing to full prices.)
9. Feel good about toy shopping at either Ross or T.J.Maxx. Both have Squishmallows!
Between the two stores, you’ll be able to find Barbie, Disney, Nerf, Lego, Cocomelon, Squishmallows and more. Comparing prices between the two is difficult because they don’t carry identical toys, despite that they offer similar brands. For example, Squishmallows are cheaper at Ross than at T.J.Maxx, but I could only find one or two of them. Inventory was low at T.J.Maxx too. So, I’d focus on comparing against major retailers and then aiming to find the toys you want to buy. And of course, with Squismallows, it depends on the character.
- Ross: $11.99
- T.J.Maxx: $15.99
- Amazon: $24.99+
Learn all about where to buy rare Squishmallows.
10. Ross wins in the baby department.
Ross just has more for baby. In addition to more racks of baby clothes in general, you can find Carter’s and Gerber bodysuits, along with all kinds of bottle supplies and even baby wipes on the cheap. Look for brands like Huggies, Aveeno, Fisher-Price, Dr. Brown’s, Avent, Bright Starts, and more.
T.J.Maxx offers Tommee Tippee and some Dr. Brown’s pacifiers, but selection is very limited.
11. Ross sells Gap and Aeropostale, while T.J.Maxx sells Hollister and American Eagle.
Comparing Ross vs. T.J.Maxx when it comes to these brands, you’ll find they each favor a couple, but neither carry all brands. You won’t find Gap or Aeropostale at T.J.Maxx, and you won’t find Hollister or American Eagle at Ross. Both discount stores offer noteworthy savings on the respective brands they offer. Shop accordingly.
(Hey, factory outlet sleuths, the Gap merch I see at Ross is usually not factory made. It appears to be from actual Gap stores.)
Aeropostale jeans at Ross: $19.99
Aeropostale jeans: $29 (reg. $54.95)
Gap tank top at Ross: $8.99
Gap tank top: $19.95
Hollister jeans at T.J.Maxx: $19.99
Hollister jeans: $29 (reg. $59.95)
American Eagle jeans at T.J.Maxx: $16.99
American Eagle jeans: $49.95
12. Should you buy shoes at T.J.Maxx or Ross? It depends.
If you’re looking for a variety of brands, be sure to cruise through the shoe section at both Ross and T.J.Maxx whenever you’re in the store. T.J.Maxx shoes offer better deals for dressier styles, while Ross is best for everyday shoes.
Here’s a price comparison of two of those brands.
Vans high tops
- Ross: $34.99
- Famous Footwear: $74.99
- T.J.Maxx: $24.99
- DSW: $59.99