Mary Clare Jalonick, AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Deal hunters have a new online option: This week, off-price retailer T.J. Maxx has quietly begun letting its customers shop online.
Off-price retailers like T.J. Maxx buy excess clothing and home goods from other merchants and sells them at about 20% to 60% off regular prices.
Few mainstream off-price retailers have full-featured e-commerce sites since the brands that they work with are often reluctant to broadcast the discount prices online. But that view is dissipating, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin, particularly as off-price flash-sale websites Gilt and Rue La La become more popular.
"I think it's a great move for (T.J. Maxx)," Tubin said, saying it will be a good source of added sales.
The company's website, tjmaxx.com, also works on tablets and smartphones, said Doreen Thompson, TJX Cos.' vice president of corporate communications.
Customers can return most merchandise purchased online at any of the company's more than 1,000 T.J. Maxx stores or ship it back, she said.
The launch of the website had been expected this fall. An e-commerce website is a way to attract customers that don't already shop at T.J. Maxx, as well as giving existing customers an ability to shop "24/7," said TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz on the company's most recent earnings conference call in August.
She said then that the company was taking a "deliberate approach" to the web to make sure the site is profitable. TJX first tried a short-lived shopping site in 2004, which closed a year later.
TJX Cos., based in Framingham, Mass., operates 3,000 stores including T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods in the U.S., Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls in Canada and T.K. Maxx and HomeSense in Europe. Of the company's brands, only T.J. Maxx appeared to be offering the online shopping option in the U.S.
In December 2012 TJX bought Sierra Trading Post, a discount online retailer, for $200 million to expand its online business.
TJX shares fell 8 cents to $56.76 late in the afternoon, earlier peaking at a 52-week high of $57.16.