America’s Most Popular Department Stores

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Since the late 19th century, Americans have been shopping in department stores for clothing, food, household items, and more. Department stores have always been flagship stores in strip malls or malls, but today more of these retail outlets are stand-alone destinations for one-stop shopping for everything from cosmetics to home furnishings. garden and pet supplies.

Today, brick-and-mortar stores are just one facet of these omnichannel retail chains, each of which now offers varying degrees of e-commerce with in-store pickup and delivery options accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Large stores that sell food and cleaning supplies have been deemed essential and able to remain open during the lockdown.

The future of department stores remains murky as more consumers shop online and the “Great Resignation” affects retail across the board. Brands are innovating with new technologies, opening store-in-store concepts and improving their online shopping experience in an attempt to build customer loyalty.

Stacker used rating data from YouGov to find the most popular department stores in the United States at the end of 2021. Percentages come from a nationally representative survey panel, where the score is calculated taking the proportion of people who see something positive and showing it as a percentage of all people who gave an opinion on that thing, including “heard about it”.

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  • 56% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 97% of people know the store

The first TJ Maxx store opened in 1977. The off-price chain has more than 4,500 stores in nine countries. TJ Maxx is owned by The TJX Companies Inc., which also owns HomeGoods, Marshalls and Homesense. Trading under the symbol TJX on the New York Stock Exchange, the company ranked 97th on last year’s Fortune 500 list. TJ Maxx has had to scramble during the pandemic to add online retail options, but now offers in-store pickup in all territories, as well as delivery.

  • 57% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 97% of people know the store

Sam’s Club is a discount warehouse club where members can purchase groceries, household items, and fuel. Owned by Walmart, Sam’s Club was founded by Sam Walton in 1983. Sam’s Club has nearly 600 stores in the United States, Brazil, China and Mexico. Club and Plus membership levels have different benefits and annual subscription rates. Members can also look after other services such as a mail-order pharmacy, financial services, travel club, and auto services.

  • 57% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 95% of people know the store

Big Lots was founded in 1967 by Sol Shenk with a focus on auto parts. In 2001, all companies owned by Consolidated International, including Big Lots, Odd Lots, Mac Frugal’s Bargains Closeouts and Pic ‘N’ Save, converged into a single brand. Big Lots is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BIG. Big Lots has more than 1,400 stores in 47 states stocked with daily necessities, clothing, food and furniture. It also offers curbside pickup and online shopping options.

  • 59% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 97% of people know the store

The first Macy’s was a dry goods store opened in New York City by Rowland H. Macy in 1858. Its flagship store moved to Herald Square in 1902 where it still stands today. The W. 34th St. location became the world’s largest store after a 1924 addition, the same year Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Parade. In addition to the iconic department store, Macy’s owns Bloomingdales and beauty store Bluemercury. In 2020, Macy’s announced plans to close 125 brick-and-mortar stores over three years, but it’s also opening Toys R Us stores in 400 Macy’s stores starting this year.

  • 60% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 96% of people know the store

James Cash Penney opened its first store, The Golden Rule, in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyo. Today, JCPenney has 650 stores across the United States. The company welcomed new CEO Marc Rosen in 2021 who aims to strengthen e-commerce for the brand. It is also introducing fast fashion brand Forever 21 to 100 stores this year. JCPenney survived bankruptcy in 2020 with Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management buying the retailer.

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  • 61% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 99% of people know the store

The first Walmart opened in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. Founded by Sam Walton, the company went public in 1970. By 1980, Walmart had 276 stores and reached $1 billion in annual sales. George HW Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to Sam Walton in Bentonville, Ark., in 1992, shortly before Walton died at age 92. Walmart is now venturing into the metaverse with plans to launch a cryptocurrency and issue non-fungible tokens.

  • 62% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 98% of people know the store

Dollar Tree operates a variety of fixed price stores in the United States and Canada. The company also owns Family Dollar, which sells items at various price points. Dollar Tree’s origins date back to 1953 when KR Perry opened a Ben Franklin variety store in Norfolk, Virginia, later renamed K&K 5&10. Perry partnered with Macon Brock and Doug Perry to run K&K 5&10 and K&K Toys and launched Only $1.00, which became Dollar Tree in 1993. By May 2022, Dollar Tree plans to raise prices for most of its goods from $1 to $1.25.

  • 63% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 97% of people know the store

Kohl’s operates more than 1,100 stores in 49 states. The first Kohl’s department store opened in 1962 in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The company went public in 1992 and launched an e-commerce division in 2001. According to company data, 80% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Kohl’s store. Kohl’s is partnering with Sephora to bring the beauty brand to 850 stores by 2023. It also partnered with Amazon in 2019 and now offers in-person Amazon returns at its stores.

  • 63% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 97% of people know the store

Costco is a wholesale club headquartered in Issaquah, Washington. Its origins date back to San Diego in 1976 when Sol Price opened the Price Club, the first membership warehouse club. The first Costco store was opened in 1983 by Jeffrey Brotman and James Sinegal. In 1993, Price Club was absorbed by Costco and now has stores in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Costco stocks about 4,000 items in its stores, fewer than the average grocery store. Known for treating its employees well, Costco in 2021 increased its starting wage to $17 an hour.

  • 71% of people in the US have a positive opinion of this store
  • 98% of people know the store

George Dayton started the business that would become Target in 1902 when he opened the Dayton Dry Goods Company in Minneapolis. In 1920, the Dayton Company launched WBAH, the most powerful radio station in the Midwest, whose broadcasts could be heard in England. In 1962, the Dayton Company launched Target, a discount store with the best features of a department store. There are now nearly 2,000 Target stores across the country. Target has given 5% of its profits to charity since 1946 and has pledged $100 million by 2025 to support black-led organizations.

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