We shopped at Kohl’s and Burlington to see which was a better store, and there was a clear winner

Burlington was, overall, a very messy store.

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Burlington was, overall, a very messy store.
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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

  • Kohl’s and Burlington are both thriving.
  • The variety of products, low prices, and increased demand for off-price products could all be reasons for that.
  • Kohl’s reported in mid-November that comparable sales were up 2.5% in the third quarter, while Burlington reported last week that comparable sales were up 4.4% in the most recent quarter.
  • We compared what it was like to shop at Kohl’s and Burlington, and the winner was clear.
Kohl’s and Burlington are both loved by shoppers for a number of reasons, including the low prices that both stores have on a huge variety of products.

Kohl’s recently reported that comparable sales were up 2.5% in the third quarter, while Burlington reported last week that comparable sales were up 4.4% in the third quarter.

While Burlington has 679 stores in the United States, Kohl’s has more than 1,100.

Both stores are benefiting from a disappearing middle class and a higher demand for budget options – two factors that have been hurting traditional department stores. In addition, because most Kohl’s stores are located in suburban strip malls rather than shopping malls, it’s less likely to be affected by the declining foot traffic that has hurt malls and the retailers that depend on them.

Even though Kohl’s is a department store and Burlington is an off-price retailer, upon visiting the two stores we found that they were similar in many ways – the styles and quality of the products were nearly identical, and both offered recognizable brands for low prices.

But one store was better than the other for a key reason:


Burlington, in New York’s Flatiron District, was my first stop.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Christmas decorations and seasonal products were set up to the left of the entryway.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Women’s clothing was on the right.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

That section took up most of the first floor. The aisles seemed to go on forever.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The aisles were very narrow and difficult to walk through, especially if more than one person was trying to shop.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was an overwhelming amount of clothing to go through. I saw a lot of recognizable brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and most of the name-brand products were under $35.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were tons of jeans …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… jackets …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and items on clearance.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In the back of the store was a maze of handbags from brands like Juicy Couture and Betsey Johnson.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a lot of makeup and beauty products at low prices …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and even more women’s clearance items. A lot of the in-store displays were pretty messy.

Burlington was, overall, a very messy store.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a lot of snacks and small products for sale by the register, which had a very long line.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

When I went upstairs, I noticed that the second floor had a very long line for the register as well.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a few aisles of shoes …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… but a lot of shelves were empty. The store was very no-frills.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The second floor also carried toys …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… more clearance products …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a ton of men’s clothing.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a tailor shop at the back of the floor, though the area around it was cluttered and messy.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was even more packed into the third floor. There were aisles of women’s coats …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… infant and toddler clothes …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and plenty of baby products like car seats and strollers.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Home products were also upstairs. It wasn’t the nicest store to shop in. The wood floors were stained, and a lot of the carpets were dirty.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were flickering lights, long lines, and a lot of clutter.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Next, I went to Kohl’s in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Menswear was the first department I saw when I walked in. The store immediately seemed cleaner and brighter than Burlington.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Kohl’s carried name brands like Adidas and Under Armour, but they were slightly more expensive here than at Burlington.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though products generally seemed more expensive, there was a lot on sale.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The organization of the floor wasn’t great, but everything was more spread out than at Burlington, which made it more manageable to shop at.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Between the men’s department and women’s department were accessories, many of which were 50% off.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a lot of styles to choose from …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a huge beauty department, similar to that of a traditional department store.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Women’s clothes were also slightly more expensive at Kohl’s than at Burlington …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… but there was just as much to choose from.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were also a lot of sales.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Further back in the store, there was a huge clearance section.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Some products were as much as 80% off.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Upstairs was a huge children’s department.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a brand-new toy display from FAO Schwarz set up in time for the holidays …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a space set up for kids to meet Santa throughout December.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The top floor also carried shoes …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… bedding …

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and a lot of home products.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The electronics department was also brand-new. There were games, speakers, smart home devices, and more.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Kohl’s even had a few tech products like the Apple Watch, which Burlington did not.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Another thing Kohl’s had that Burlington did not was online-order pickup lockers. They looked extremely similar to an Amazon Locker.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though Burlington was slightly less expensive, Kohl’s offered a significantly better shopping experience. It also had more electronics, order-pickup lockers, and plenty of sales to keep prices low, ultimately making it the clear winner.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler