We shopped at Target and the struggling Pier 1 Imports to see which store is better at selling home goods - and there was a clear winner
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider
- Pier 1 Imports is a top home-decor retailer - but it's falling behind competitors like Target and Amazon.
- After sales plummeted last quarter, the company announced it would close 57 stores by its 2020 fiscal year.
- We visited Pier 1 Imports and Target - a key competitor - to see for ourselves which store does home-goods shopping better. Despite its struggles, Pier 1 Imports was the clear winner.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Pier 1 Imports might be sinking in terms of sales, but the home-goods retailer still has much to offer in terms of quality.
In June, the company reported a 15.5% drop in sales in its quarterly results. In the past 5 years, the company's stock has lost more than 95% of its value and the chain announced it would increase its 45 store closures to 57 by the end of its 2020 fiscal year.
According to critics, Pier 1 Imports is failing to meaningfully distinguish itself from its competitors. Analysts have attributed the company's steady decline to overwhelming store environments and out-of-style merchandise that doesn't find favor in the eyes of customers.
We compared Pier 1 Imports and Target to see which store offered the better home-goods experience. Though Pier 1 Imports was focused on huge sales and the amount of merchandise was indeed overwhelming, Target left much to be desired in terms of variety and design.
Here's what we saw:
First, we stopped by Pier 1 Imports on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The store was having its semi-annual sale, so practically everything was cheaper than usual.
The store was characterized by a lot of open space and a huge amount of merchandise laid out on wooden shelves.
For the most part, the store had a pretty clear organizational structure — different items were located in different sections. However, the furniture seemed sporadically placed throughout the store.
The warm lighting in the rooms created a relaxing and laid-back environment.
There were some items for sale that were extremely niche — like this Sitting Buddha statue, which was originally $149.95 but was going for 50% off.
This brass sculpture was also one of the more interesting decorative items.
We were somewhat overwhelmed by the vast amount of merchandise available in the store. There were huge walls of every possible home good, from candles ...
... to pillows ...
... to lanterns. In practically every category, the store was overflowing with different styles and sizes of merchandise.
Some sections had a whole host of items we never knew we needed.
And it seemed like almost every item was on sale. Red signs all over the store's shelves marked the discounts.
They were everywhere — and the presence of a few empty shelves suggested that the sales were doing their job.
In some cases, the shelves and bins were almost completely empty.
This store carried a lot of larger furniture and home decor items. There was a large selection of rugs on the bottom floor — and they were almost all on sale.
Some, of course, were cheaper than others.
We also found some gorgeous paintings toward the back of the store.
The clearance section downstairs was filled with even more items. The shelves were packed with different goods on sale for even less. It sort of reminded us of a bougie yard sale — in a good way.
There were signs advertising Pier 1 Imports' online channel for shopping, which was reopened in 2012 after shutting down in 2007.
A computer in the store was designated to help customers find items online.
Signs also advertised a same-day delivery option for certain items, likely a move to try and keep up with other retailers who have mastered the quick delivery game, like Amazon.
Customers also had the option to join the Pier 1 Imports loyalty program to earn even more savings.
We left Pier 1 Imports wondering what it could possibly be doing wrong.
So we stopped by Target next to check out the home goods shopping experience there.
The store's central location on 34th Street across from Macy's subjects it to the heavy foot traffic of Midtown.
Target is known for selling a variety of items, from clothing to groceries. For this comparison, we focused solely on the home-goods section.
The home section at Target was made up of a few aisles, so naturally, there was less to purchase.
From the outset, practicality was clearly key at Target. The items here were simple. These glass plates and bowls were even somewhat boring. But at less than $20 for a six-pack, it was hard to complain too much.
A simple glance down the aisles showed that the colors and styles in Target were less exciting than those at Pier 1 Imports.
Almost all of the items were exclusively on the grayscale, from the rugs ...
... to the duvets ...
... to the lamps. It was hard to find a tinge of color outside of these muted tones.
We did happen upon some more stylish items eventually. These spatulas and spoons were meant to look like potted plants — they actually fooled us at first.
But most of the items at Target had a no-frills quality to them. These towels seemed designed for functionality, not for show. In other words, a lot of the selection was pretty boring.
That's not to say the selection here was of bad quality. Most of the goods — like these soap dispensers — would look great in any home. They just lacked the whimsy and color that characterized the items at Pier 1 Imports.
Like in Pier 1 Imports, there were a lot of sales happening at Target.
Admittedly, the prices were low. But in many cases, the displays conjured a feeling of cheapness — it was vastly different than the rustic quality of the wooden displays at Pier 1 Imports.
All in all, the selection here was less overwhelming than at Pier 1 Imports. The wall of pillows here was not nearly as massive or colorful.
Neither was the scented candles selection.
There was a small selection of items from the Cravings by Chrissy Teigen collection. This display of rustic styled items was one of the few interesting sections in Target's home section.
Some of the items — like this mortar and pestle — were handcrafted in India.
Target's home section exists within a larger store context. It therefore has the advantage of attracting customers who didn't even plan on shopping for home goods.
But the offerings at Target were largely uninspired.
Overall, Target offered us less of a variety in store, but more of a straightforward experience meant for the quick shopping spree. Pier 1 Imports won us over with its vibrant and charming selection.
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