Are Americans ready to do some good old-fashioned ‘revenge shopping’?

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Feb 25, 2021
George Anderson

TJX Companies’ fourth quarter report did not reveal the type of positive results that have become routine for the parent company of Homegoods, Marshalls and TJ Maxx in recent years, but its CEO still sees the glass as well past half full going forward.

Ernie Herrman, TJX CEO, believes he has plenty of reasons for optimism. For one, the quarterly drop in same-store sales at the company’s properties was down only seven percent despite well reported spikes in the number of novel coronavirus cases during the 13 weeks ending Jan. 30 and the shopping restrictions that have been imposed during the pandemic.

He also believes that a number of opportunities are developing in the market that will benefit TJX going forward. Speaking on the company’s earnings call yesterday, Mr. Herrman pointed to the job that TJX buyers have done cementing relationships with existing vendors while recruiting new ones.

“Our buyers opened thousands of new vendors across good, better and best brands and sourced from a universe of approximately 21,000 vendors around the world,” said Mr. Herrman. “We believe all of this puts us in an excellent position to keep offering consumers an eclectic mix of branded merchandise at amazing values.”

The TJX CEO also thinks there is prime retail real estate to be had as many other chains have closed stores. This may mean expanding the number of stores the retailer operates in some markets while moving existing stores to better locations in others.

On the capital expenditure side, TJX is planning to invest between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion worldwide on new stores (76 net new locations in the U.S.), remodels and on the company’s distribution network and infrastructure.

Believing 2021 will be a better year than 2020, TJX also plans to launch marketing campaigns to promote its individual banners. Each campaign will “reinforce our value leadership,” according to Mr. Herrman. They “will also highlight the elements of discovery, variety and quality, which are all major strengths for us.”

We have a tremendous opportunity to capture additional market share, even beyond the prospect of a resurgence in consumer spending and ‘revenge shopping’,” said Mr. Herrman. “Once vaccines are widely available, longer term, we are convinced that our flexible off-price model has structural advantages with our entertaining and engaging treasure hunt shopping experience, differentiated assortment of branded merchandise and our excellent values.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that consumers are ready to engage in some “revenge shopping” and that such behavior will benefit the chains operated by TJX? What challenges do you see facing the company?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"When it’s safe to go out again, shoppers are going to spend, people are going to flock to restaurants, and we’re all going to party like it’s 2022."
"Pent up social interaction demand will be a significant driver that will prompt consumers to embrace in-person shopping and dramatically increase store foot-traffic numbers."
"TJX has tailwinds coming into this year. It is indeed a trifecta of customers, suppliers and real estate."

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26 Comments on "Are Americans ready to do some good old-fashioned ‘revenge shopping’?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

YES, I think TJX is correct and shoppers are ready to get back to buying in a big away. With vaccines starting to roll out in earnest, stimulus payments on the way and generally strong economic conditions, it is all set up for a strong consumer response. While there’s no doubt that apparel had the hardest time, and even if some of the effects of people working from home remain, I think we’re going to see an even better response in consumer spending than TJX or the NRF are predicting.

VeeCee
Guest

I cannot get back to shopping in a “big way” because I have no extra income. My entire income now goes to the basics: mortgage, utilities, food, car payments, gas. If I do not get the next stimulus payment soon, I will not be able to meet my next mortgage payment.

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Fair points VeeCee. While I do believe momentum is turning positive, it will still take time, and everyone’s personal situation is different. All the best.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Given that U.S. retail and consumers have not been completely locked down for many months, I see much less upside for revenge spending than in other countries. In the U.K., for example, non-essential stores have been shut since November and consumers have been confined to their homes. Once that lockdown ends people will almost certainly come out and will spend savings made during the pandemic. The same kind of thing happened in China last year.

In the U.S., there will be pockets of revenge spending. Apparel is likely one of them. As social occasions and other events come back into our calendars, many will relish the opportunity to buy new outfits and dress up.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I agree.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Revenge shopping will be tempered by the amount of disposable income available. For those who lost their jobs due to lockdowns, shut-downs and other downs, the first priority will be to get reemployed. Then, late in 2021, they may engage in revenge shopping.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust
I’d rather call it “relaxed shopping” or “vaccinated shopping” and, someday, “maskless shopping.” Revenge draws on anger and frustration and that’s not where I want to invest my energy. I just want to take a (maskless) deep breath and get on with my life. I want to visit the mall once a week rather than once every two months. I want to take the pulse of the business again and dive into the evolutionary changes and solutions that will be in motion. And TJX will certainly be taking advantage of the newly available real estate. Part of the question will be what lessons the brands have learned about excess inventory and how it is best dealt with. One of the best solutions for the brand is to not have any. Maybe the last year has thrown up some cautionary flags about how forward inventory is planned and executed. Newly nimble supply chains will hopefully make brands smarter about forward seasons and the depth and breadth of their buys. TJX may need all those new relationships… Read more »
Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Psychologically, I think we want to return to normal (whatever normal was for you). If that included treasure hunting, you’ll want to go back to that and that bodes well for TJX – online treasure hunting has never been reported to be as much fun as in-store.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Agreed – treasure hunt shopping is not as fun online as it is actually in-store. I believe some people will still be hesitant as the stimulus funding is still up in the air, and people still have to have money for the basics — shelter, utilities, and food — before they can think about going on a spending holiday on themselves and feel good about it.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

There is no doubt that there will be a bump up, but after the bump, the trend will fall back to the trend over the last years. In fact that downward trend may accelerate as many shoppers have discovered they don’t “need” new things.

I have one question regarding Ernie Herman’s comment. “We have a tremendous opportunity to capture additional market share, even beyond the prospect of a resurgence in consumer spending and ‘revenge shopping’.” Who are they going to take market share from? That answer will give significant insight into the overall retail future.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Revenge shopping? Yes, but with certain caveats. Consumers in the U.S. have largely been able to shop throughout the last quarter with only capacity limits in some regions holding them back. We did not have a repeat of lockdowns over the winter to force stores closed so the opportunity to buy was there, but the intent to buy certain product categories was not. Apparel, which drives TJ Max and Marshalls sales, was a category that lacked consumer shopping intent. Other categories absolutely saw revenge shopping! TJX’s Home Goods brand is in a better position to benefit in 2021 as consumers will still be buying products to make their homes more enjoyable. Apparel will see a comeback once social gatherings and events start happening again and consumers will want to buy new clothes for the occasion. Finding new and better locations for TJX stores is a good strategy moving forward as there will be vacancies in desirable locations when other retailers close down. Remodels will also be important as TJX can’t rely on revenge shopping alone… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

While most of the retailers in my neighborhood are shuttered, our TJMaxx and Marshalls are always crowded. Budget-friendly prices and a fresh assortment every week tempt shoppers with a desire to get out of the house. When it’s safe to go out again, shoppers are going to spend, people are going to flock to restaurants, and we’re all going to party like it’s 2022.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Many consumers have a pent-up desire to indulge in stores. They’re eager to get out, examine products and upgrade their wardrobe after a year of yoga pants.

TJX chains are affordable and they encourage shoppers to slow down, explore and find the right fit. During the pandemic, consumers have grown accustomed to e-commerce and brief store visits, so getting some consumers to feel comfortable and linger again may take time.

David Adelman
BrainTrust

Definitely. TJX has always focused on providing unique “adventure shopping” featuring well know brands at discounted prices. With the acceleration of online shopping during the pandemic, TJX will be well-positioned to take advantage of the consumers’ pent-up demand for deals as shoppers come out of hibernation for some tactile retail therapy.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

TJX is well positioned to be a top choice for consumers doing a variety of types of shopping – “revenge,” necessities or special occasion – depending on their budget.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

No, I think that spending to get an increase in revenues (not including marketing or operational efficiencies) is not a smart way to go during this pandemic and after. Since we don’t know how long the pandemic will last or how deep the impact will be, it is much better to be conservative about one’s spending. TJX is clearly not doing this.

Yogesh Kulkarni
BrainTrust

TJX has tailwinds coming into this year. It is indeed a trifecta of customers, suppliers and real estate. As customers can safely and freely shop in the stores, their value based retail discovery model will definitely resonate. The bigger opportunity for them is also on the supply chain side. They have eager suppliers that are challenged with traditional retailers who are either reducing their buys or rescinding their contracts – leaving a lot of good merchandise to pick from for TJX’s “opportunity buys.” The same goes for real estate – they might be get their best choices and very favorable contract conditions for expansion as many traditional retailers are significantly reducing their store fleet.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Apparel sales have really suffered during the pandemic, for two key reasons: First, the “work from home” phenomenon (where feasible) has cut into sales of officewear, even in workplaces with casual dress codes. And, second, mall-based retailers suffered from closures and lack of traffic more than “essential” retailers like Target or Home Depot.

I see a lot of pent-up demand for what Jeff Sward calls “relaxed shopping,” but I’m not sure how it translates into a boom for apparel. People have learned what they can live without during the past year, and in many cases it includes new clothing.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

We’ve already seen the bump, but comps will be extremely favorable for the next several months against the lockdown periods of 2020. All categories will benefit, but discretionary categories will gain more so.

Given the relaxed restrictions and increasing vaccination rates, I prefer to call it splurging, or to be more upbeat, a celebration of life and a return to a sense of normality. Revenge shopping, no; celebratory shopping, yes!

Ryan Grogman
BrainTrust

Discount retailers like TJX will clearly see increases once more people feel safer about shopping in-store, but I would attribute that more to “value shopping” than “revenge shopping.” TJX’s price points and selection will resonate with consumers who are more tightly controlling their spending as they weather the longer-term financial impacts of the past year. I think revenge shopping will likely be a factor for certain luxury goods retailers, higher end apparel retailers, and the exotic location travel industry.

Joe Skorupa
BrainTrust

In 2020, TJX missed a spike that registered 6.7 percent YoY growth in retail sales, as recently reported by NRF. I’m also glad they weren’t hurt as bad as might be expected for a company without an omnichannel strategy. And I’m glad they go their own way by investing big money in hundreds of smart buyers (I’ve heard the number is nearly a thousand), which is as old-school as it gets in retail. However, I’d be happier to learn TJX has elevated omnichannel (e.g. web channels and associated functions) to the top of their priority list as well as investments in CRM, AI and digital transformation of supply chain and merchandising functions. I guess it’s kind of fun to see one big company go all in on old-school retail and survive, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Larry Negrich
BrainTrust

Pent up social interaction demand will be a significant driver that will prompt consumers to embrace in-person shopping and dramatically increase store foot-traffic numbers. Many consumers took advantage of the Covid/work-from-home period to undertake home improvement projects. TJX store concepts are well positioned for shoppers looking for furnishings and decorating touches to finish off these areas of the home.

RandyDandy
Guest
1 month 18 days ago
For starters, whoever coined the term “revenge shopping” has some subconscious anger management issues to resolve. As far as I can tell, the public may have been put off from buying as they would have normally, but they still spent some money. And to whom would they be exacting revenge — Mother Nature? Or if the person is extreme left or right, against their left or right-leaning governing bodies? (And wouldn’t the money coming in still benefit both factions?! Where’s the revenge in that?!) Meanwhile, it is also not like a “switch” will be “flipped” — or that President Biden will officially announce “It’s over!” (Besides, that would be rather impossible to truly determine and irresponsible to proclaim.) Still, it is true that some places will find shoppers whose numbers grow greatly as Covid cases lessen remarkably. But those figures will both ebb and flow depending on whether one’s region was more draconian or lenient on it’s way to “this” moment. Also, there are certain categories of things (whether to buy or to experience) that… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest

This seems to be a continuation of the “V-shaped recovery” theme, and IMHO the poll results reflect hope over facts: (1) most businesses have been open for months, and (2) large segments of the country — at both the individual and industry level — experienced large, sometimes catastrophic, income loss; it’s not magically coming back.

Businesses that have been closed completely — theaters, bars, fine dining — may indeed see an “at last!” moment when they reopen, but I’m more cautious of its extent: few people are going to go dinner or the movies 35 nights in a row just because they missed that many times over the past year.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust
I don’t agree that TJX or any other apparel retailer will see massive bump in sales from “revenge” shopping. I expect a gradual sloped improvement as things start to get back to normal. My thoughts: This pandemic is going to suddenly end one day. The recovery and return to “normal” is going to be inconsistent across sectors and geographies. I also expect it will ebb and flow as variants continue to appear. I expect it to start and stop as it’s been doing all along. I do think we’re getting to the point where starts will outnumber the stops more and more. We are still experiencing the economic impact of the pandemic, stimulus checks aside. The most impacted segments I suspect correlates well with TJX’s core customers. Many people will put off spending until their personal situations improve. That’s going to take time. These consumers will continue to be cautious about non-essential purchases. The pandemic has influenced some significant changes in how people shop, especially in apparel. I believe we’ll see a bit less enthusiasm… Read more »
Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

According to Alvarez & Marsal’s recent report on the Covid impact, there is a shift in consumer view of retail and new loyalties are being developed for retailers. The concept of “revenge shopping” is tied to the expectation that things will be normal — however we have a new normal.

Does this mean customers will continue to stay in their homes? No, but they will be more selective and companies that have established themselves as solid partners during the pandemic will see loyalty advantages that others will not.

Per the report, customers will be continue focus on essential spending and there has been a readjustment in priorities for what matters in how customers engage. TJX may have already seen a bump in their home goods and decrease in luggage products, and increased ecommerce spending, but the real test will be in the store experience and whether these resonate with the customer’s new expectations.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"When it’s safe to go out again, shoppers are going to spend, people are going to flock to restaurants, and we’re all going to party like it’s 2022."
"Pent up social interaction demand will be a significant driver that will prompt consumers to embrace in-person shopping and dramatically increase store foot-traffic numbers."
"TJX has tailwinds coming into this year. It is indeed a trifecta of customers, suppliers and real estate."

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