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Marshalls opens its first online store

MOUNT PROSPECT - MAY 19: The front facade of a Marshalls store is seen May 19, 2004 in Mount Prospect, Illinois. T.J. Maxx' and Marshalls' parent company TJX Cos. posted a 48 percent first-quarter rise in profit. Sales alone from the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores rose 12.6 percent from last year. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Marshalls has more than 1,000 US stores and a healthy business selling a variety of big-name clothing brands for men and women, home goods, accessories and beauty products. The discount retailer has done just fine without an online store, but now is finally launching one.

On Tuesday, Marshalls announced that its new website will have an “ever-changing, fresh mix of merchandise” that mimics its famous in-store treasure hunt experience. Returns can also be made online or at its stores.

Marshalls is owned by TJX Companies, which also operates HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx. The latter two stores have had online stores for several years.

Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, told CNN Business that an online store for Marshalls was likely low on TJX’s list because it was focused on expanding its profitable physical locations. Online shopping, however, is a resource that it needed to tap into eventually, he said.

“It’s smart because it gives Marshalls a good avenue for future growth,” Saunder said.

He cautioned that TJX be careful that its online store doesn’t cannibalize its stores. “One of the key things about the off-price model is that people will bargain hunt in a physical stores, which doesn’t always translate online,” he said.

TJX said in its most recent earnings that same-store sales missed estimates, partly because of the rise of off-price stores being opened by Macy’s and Nordstrom. Sales rose nearly 5% to $10 billion for second-quarter ending in early August. TJX stock jumped 2% in early trading and is up 25% for the year.

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