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An Unlikely Competitor

T.J. Maxx shoppers aren’t leaving the store with only discount Dooney and Bourke handbags and Calvin Klein dresses in their bags. Many of the retailer’s so-called “Maxxinistas” also buy specialty chocolate and the like strategically merchandised at the checkout.

Indeed, T.J. Maxx and other discount retailers are increasingly becoming a competitive threat in the specialty market by selling select specialty goods.

While specialty and natural food stores are the mainstream supermarket’s biggest competitor in the market, plenty of other retail outlets are in the market.

Take Christmas Tree Shops. This week’s flyer promotes Bonelli olive oil from Italy for $2.99 for 17 ounces.

When the showfloor opened this morning, one of the first buyers I saw browsing the aisles was from Christmas Tree Shops.

At the end of a state of the specialty industry presentation this morning, I listened as Ron Tanner of NASFT and David Browne of Mintel told attendees about the trend. While certainly not welcome news at time when retailers are already stuggling to hold the line on pricing, it’s imperative for retailers to know who their unlikely competitors are.