Area shoppers want deals and off-price stores delivering with growth

The number of discount and off-price retail stores opening in this area has greatly increased as the demise of large box and department stores continues.

Off-price concepts like Marc’s, Burlington, Ross Dress For Less, TJ Maxx and Macy’s Backstage have seen increased foot traffic, sales hikes and new stores while other retailers such as Elder-Beerman and Sears have filed for bankruptcy and closed hundreds of locations.

“There’s been a change in shopping patterns since the Great Recession. It had a big impact on consumers and a lot of people adapted to those changes and started shopping more at the discount outlets,” said Scott Saddlemire, principal with Cincinnati-based OnSite Retail Group.

Saddlemire works with TJX Companies to find real estate for its TJMaxx, Marshalls and Home Goods stores.

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The Dayton area, as well as other manufacturing communities, were hit harder than others by the recession. Ohio recently reached record employment and started seeing modest wage growth, signs the economy is beginning to recover.

Yet, shoppers here still want a good deal, with consumer shopping habits still valuing a good deal in the remnants of the recession, Saddlemire said. Even 93 percent of digital native Generation Z shoppers aged 18 to 23 say they shop discount retailers, which have a strong emphasis on brick-and-mortar shops.

And retailers that offer cheap, but quality merchandise, are aggressively moving into area markets to capitalize on the wide-spread consumers hunt for bargains.

While the deal is a major attraction, its also the thrill of the hunt that keeps consumers heading to off-price stores that regularly rotate their merchandise.

“When we’ve looked at the data and the consumer trends, the one-of-a-kind item has an appeal,” said Alex Boehnke, spokesman for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “When you come back to that bargain retailer a week later, it’s going to be completely different…that’s exciting.”

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The Dayton Mall confirmed late last month that a Ross Dress For Less store will open in the former hhgregg space, and a second location is expected to open at the Shoppes of Beavercreek, according to Greene County records. The retailers are among the few able to fill larger vacant spaces as department stores shut down.

The store is similar to Burlington, which is also planning to open a fourth Dayton-area store at 5545 Executive Blvd. in Huber Heights.

And other discount stores are expanding as well. New-to-the-market Marc's grocery store at 2100 E. Whipp Road in Kettering— which opened this summer — is known across Ohio for its closeout section, offering quality products for last-chance prices. County records also showed plans for a new Dollar General store on Ohio 201 in Bethel and Dollar Tree on Miami Street in West Milton.

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“It might have started out as necessity…but now I think it’s just become an expectation. We can get quality goods at discount prices and that’s what we like,” Boehnke said.

The growth of the stores is likely to continue, with 89 percent of consumers shopping at off-price and discount retailers, 30 percent of which are millennials, according to a recent report from NRF.

“Millennials are less interested in the prestige of brand power and things like that, and they appreciate value,” Saddlemire said.

Traditional retailers like Macy’s have joined the off-price sector with concepts like Macy’s Backstage, which opened last summer at the Dayton Mall.

“Even if you’ve got extra money in your pocket, everybody likes a good deal,” Saddlemire said.

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By the numbers

89: Percent of people who shop at off-price and discount retailers

6: Percent increase same-store sales for TJX Companies

29: Percent of off-price shoppers that are millennials

2: New Ross Dress For Less discount stores expected to open

93: Percent of Generation Z that say they shop at discount stores

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