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Is TJX Bucking the "Retail is Dead" trend?

· Retail,digital,strategy

So the Wall Street Journal just published an interesting article about TJX aptly titled: How to Survive the Retail Crisis: A Master Class from T.J. Maxx . Haven't read it yet? Do so. If you're a millennial, I don't need to convince you to borrow someone else's password to get past the paywall - you're already doing it :)

Anyways, I figured I'd take this opportunity to provide a hot take (fairly uninformed and took no more than 5 minutes to write), and I'd love to hear any differing thoughts on it:

  • As great as the TJX franchise has been doing in the last 10+ years.....I still think that they are focusing a bit on their own success and completely ignoring the mega-trend of using digital solutions to improve its customer experience and remain on-par with its direct & indirect competitors, which I hope doesn't bite them in the ass in a few years. Everyone just heard Mickey Drexler, the CEO of J Crew, say "I Underestimated How Tech Would Upend Retail" about a month before he rescinded his title by resigning from the leadership position.  "Software is eating the world," and it doesn't stop at retail, even in a unique situation.
  • TJX''s store revenues growth already slowed from 7% to only 1%, and they don't mention whether or not there is slowed growth of foot traffic thru their stores (note: I was a bit too lazy to read the last 10K for TJX, and it's possible this concern and others were actually addressed within the filing). Not to mention they are opening 250 stores next year, at an incredibly high fixed cost. That's actually what makes me most nervous - costs of big-box stores (and 10+ yr leases) are the biggest downfall of most retail stores.
  • I love the TJX "treasure hunting" business model (though I leave it to my future wife to actively pursue that desire to shop - she is a card-carrying member of the Home Goods fan club), but I think they might wanna take their foot off the gas pedal in terms of continuing to add retail stores, and focus on improving their customer experience thru leveraging digital solutions in their existing brick & mortar locations.  As most, I don't think b&m retail is "dead," I just think that it's evolving, and I don't want TJX to be left behind  [Insert quotes about Amazon-Whole Foods acquisition and Target's $7+ billion retail reinvention initiative here].

I'm positive that others have different takes on this, and would love to hear any and all. I personally know several TJX'ers, and they definitely all drink the kool-aid.

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