With the 2010 holiday season behind us, we're getting a good sense of how the "new normal" is reshaping our shopping habits. As it turns out, the "new normal" is a lot like the old normal:
- Shoppers still gravitate toward brand names.
- Our hearts soar at the sight of a bargain.
- And rather than settle for subpar off-brand bounty, we'll do without or wait for our favorite four-letter word: s-a-l-e.
In other words, give us goods at either end of the frugal-fancy spectrum. Think Tiffany and Target. Coach and Costco
Woe is the retailer that is neither a high-end merchant nor a low-priced retailer. That leaves you languishing in the unexciting middle with department stores like Dillard's and Bon-Ton. And these days, the middle of the road is the surest route to mediocre returns in retail.
But a couple of companies have nailed the "new normal" just right by catering to brand-conscious bargain hunters. Investors, allow us to introduce to you the "off-price retailer."
Why pay full price?
"Off-price" retailers give consumers the best of both worlds, buying excess inventory from high- and low-end stores, then reselling it at discounts somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% to 70% less than the usual retail prices.
Retailers like Big Lots
But by far, the two leaders -- both in size and execution -- are TJX