Both Ross and T.J.Maxx are off-price retailers that offer killer deals. But how are they different? How does pricing stack up when you pit them against each other and against 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!
Download the KCL app so we can tell you when we see must-have deals.
How does T.J.Maxx and Ross 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 cancelled.
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 T.J.Maxx and Ross buyers are hunting every day, they aren’t limited to seasonal items, and inventory rotates more frequently than in a department store.
Ross sells made-for-outlet merchandise that isn’t the “real” thing!
I was surprised to spot Banana Republic items at Ross that I’m certain came from a Banana Republic factory store. And not only that, but they were made-for-outlet BR items! 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.
How do I know? 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.
Talk about meta! Ross is buying sloppy seconds from a factory store. And those seconds were made-for-outlet. No wonder the item was only $6.99!
Learn more outlet shopping secrets so you can tell factory items from the real thing too.
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.
Tommy Hilfiger jeans are cheaper at Ross.
To get a comparison with retail value, I’m showing the least expensive Tommy Hilfiger men’s jeans at Macy’s. You can find them on sale, but you’ll be hard pressed to get them for $16.99!
I don’t hate T.J.Maxx’s prices here, but if you can buy them cheaper at Ross, do that.
- Ross: $16.99
- T.J.Maxx: $29.99
- Macy’s: $69.50
Toss a coin and buy Calvin Klein jeans at either T.J.Maxx or Ross.
Prices are on equal footing for Calvin Klein jeans with both Ross and T.J.Maxx coming in at $29.99 on average. As long as you don’t buy your CK jeans at full price from a department store like Macy’s, you’ll be fine!
- Ross: $29.99
- T.J.Maxx: $29.99
- Macy’s: $69.50
Ditto Calvin Klein and Adidas socks.
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.
Calvin Klein athletic socks
- Ross: $9.99
- T.J.Maxx: $9.99
- Macy’s: $29
Adidas athletic socks
- Ross: $9.99
- T.J.Maxx: $9.99
- DICK’S Sporting Goods: $20
If you want a Nike soccer ball or adidas shin guards, shop at Ross.
T.J.Maxx sells soccer balls, but I usually don’t see any big name brands. But $9.99 for a size 3 kids’ soccer ball is a great deal.
As for shin guards, they’re cheaper at Ross.
Nike soccer ball
- Ross: $9.99
- DICK’S Sporting Goods: $16
adidas soccer shin guards
- Ross: $4.99
- T.J.Maxx: $8 (reg. $9.99)
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!
“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 $45, 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.
T.J.Maxx offers a better toy selection than Ross.
You’ll find way more toy brands overall at T.J.Maxx. I’m talking Melissa & Doug, Barbie, National Geographic kits, LEGO, and more.
National Geographic Glow-in-the-Dark Putty Kit
Melissa & Doug Floor Puzzle
…But Ross has a more extensive 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 Dr. Brown’s, Avent, Huggies, Bright Starts, Aveeno, and Fisher-Price.
T.J.Maxx offers Tommee Tippee and some Dr. Brown’s pacifiers, but selection is limited.
Avent baby bottle sterilizer
Dr. Brown’s baby bottles
Ross: $12.99 (or $6.50 each)
Amazon: $22.99 (or $5.75 each)
Ross sells Gap and Aeropostale, while T.J.Maxx sells Hollister and American Eagle.
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: $54.50
Gap tank top at Ross: $8.99
Gap tank top: $12.99 (reg. $24.95)
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: $59.95
Ross has a better shoe selection than T.J.Maxx.
If you’re looking for a variety of brands, stop by Ross frequently to comb through the shoe racks.
Not only do they have more options overall, but they offer brands T.J.Maxx doesn’t have like Converse, Dr. Martens, Under Armour, Reef, TOMS, and Adidas. Here’s a price comparison of two of those brands. I couldn’t find the identical Under Armour shoe at other retailers, because Ross is probably selling a past-season version. I used the cheapest version as a comparison.
Converse high tops
Famous Footwear: $59.99
Under Armour running shoes
DICK’S Sporting Goods: $69.99
What differences have you noticed between the two off-price retailers? Tell me in the comments!