Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack

Why write an article about Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack? Because after the success of my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale article and the questions readers asked of me, I realized that many people don’t realize the differences between Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack.

Yes, they are owned by the same company. And there is some overlap between Nordstrom and the Rack. However, at the same time, there are tons of differences.

Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack

So, in this article, I’ll explain the differences as well as the similarities when looking at Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack. Hopefully, you’ll come away with answers to your questions.

Honestly, in researching and writing this article, I learned a lot. In fact, I found out things about Nordstrom Rack and Nordstrom that I never knew. 

For example, you may be familiar with HauteLook, an accessories company that Nordstrom bought some years ago. In 2021 Nordstrom phased out HauteLook and combined it with Nordstrom Rack for any steals and deals on accessories.

What is the difference between Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom is a national department store that started in 1901 in the Pacific Northwest. It began as a shoe store.

It’s still an excellent place to buy shoes. As someone with extra wide feet, I’ve found that, along with Zappos, Nordstrom is one of the best places to buy shoes for wide feet.

Over the years Nordstrom has made a name for itself by offering outstanding customer service. Its staff is well trained, professional and polite. I’ve never had a negative experience shopping at a Nordstrom department store.

What is Nordstrom Rack

This is the description of the store that I found on the Nordstrom Rack website:

“Nordstrom Rack is part of Nordstrom, Inc. and was founded in 1973. Nordstrom Rack is the off-price division of Nordstrom, Inc. offering clearance merchandise from Nordstrom stores as well as items purchased specially for Nordstrom Rack. The store offers significant savings on great brands with most at 30-70% off.”

Nordstrom Rack inventory

Basically, if you’re wondering how often Nordstrom Rack restocks its, well, racks, my research tells me this is occurring daily. Plus, I would imagine, after the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in the summer, you should expect to see lots more inventory showing up at Nordstrom Rack.

For what it’s worth, I’ve found plenty of items at Nordstrom Rack that clearly came from a Nordstrom store. I could tell by the price tag–they look different than items that originated at Nordstrom Rack. Also, they were marked down significantly.

Nordstrom markdowns and sales

There are notable annual or regular sales at Nordstrom stores. This includes both Nordstrom department store and Nordstrom Rack.

As I’ve already mentioned, there is the big Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, which I wrote about here. It’s every July and lasts for at least two weeks. 

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is one of the best times to save at Nordstrom. That’s because the sale offers discounts on designer names that they hardly markdown. 

Also, roughly once a month, Nordstrom Rack will announce a Clear the Rack sale. It’s usually three days long. During Clear the Rack, you can expect to find packed clearance racks with items marked down an extra 25%.

As luck would have it, in July, during the Anniversary Sale, you can expect the Clear the Rack sale to overlap as it did in 2022. So if you happen to live near both a Nordstrom department store and Nordstrom Rack, you could check out sales at both places. 

Finally, at one point Nordstrom held a Half Yearly Sale. I couldn’t find confirmation if that’s still happening. However, once I find out, I’ll update this section appropriately.

What does Nordstrom have that Nordstrom Rack doesn’t

There are a couple of services and amenities that you can find at a Nordstrom department store location that you won’t find at Nordstrom Rack. For starters Nordstrom Rack stores do not have restaurants. Many Nordstrom department store locations do–and the food is surprisingly good.

Wedding services at Nordstrom

Next, some Nordstrom locations have wedding attire. At one time Nordstrom had something called the Wedding Suite, which was like a more traditional bridal salon. However, now that’s all scaled back. 

Speaking of bridal, if you want to create a Nordstrom wedding registry, you can do that through the service called MyRegistry.com

That being said, you can buy wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses and mother of the bride clothing at Nordstrom. Sometimes you can find these at Nordstrom Rack, too, but it’s not a given.

Alterations and tailoring

In addition, Nordstrom department stores offer alterations. Nordstrom Rack stores do not for the most part.

According to the Nordstrom Rack website, some stores do offer tailoring and alterations for items purchased in store or online at Nordstrom Rack. However, it doesn’t spell out which stores offer these services. So, you’ll need to check each store’s website to determine if the one nearest you does offer this service.

Nordstrom Spa

Also, some Nordstrom stores have spas onsite. They are called the Spa at Nordstrom.

Decades ago when I was a beauty reporter for Allure Magazine, I covered the opening of the Spa at Nordstrom at the Somerset Collection Mall. (I was living in Michigan at the time.)

Though I live in Western Pennsylvania now and have a Nordstrom nearby in Pittsburgh, that Spa at Nordstrom in Michigan is still the closest one to me. Crazy, I know. 

However, there are only Nordstrom spas in selection locations. They are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Canada (BC)
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Washington State

Here is the store locator for Spa at Nordstrom.

Curbside pickup vs in store pick up

When I first wrote my article about stores that let you shop online but pick up in store, in-store pickup was the only option at Nordstrom. But then in 2020 Nordstrom introduced curbside pickup. 

Using the app, you let the store know when you’ll be in the parking lot for your order. Once you arrive, you let them know you are there, and then they come out with your purchase. It’s just like ordering groceries online from a local supermarket.

Nordstrom Rack also has in store pickup, but only at certain store locations. When shopping online, you’ll be able to discover if your local Nordstrom Rack store offers in store pickup.

How? It will be one of your options under shipping when you checkout.

Unfortunately, Nordstrom Rack does not offer curbside pickup for orders. 

Bra fittings

Finally, one of the services Nordstrom is known for is bra fitting. While I have purchased bras at Nordstrom Rack (after being fitted at Nordstrom), I’ve never seen the bra fitting service offered at the Rack.

Shopping online Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack

While Nordstrom online and Nordstrom Rack online have different web addresses, in 2021 your accounts likely merged. That is, whatever your login was on the site you used the most, it transitioned to be the login for the other site. 

This FAQ on the Nordstrom website explains these changes from April 2021.

Nordstrom Rewards program

There is just one rewards program for the entire Nordstrom company. It’s called The Nordy Club.

This means that you can earn points for The Nordy Club when shopping at Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack. You earn points whether you’re shopping in person or online.

It’s easy to make sure you get points for your purchases, especially when shopping in person. You see, your phone number is connected to your Nordy Club account.

So once the cashier collects your phone number, then that purchase is applied to your rewards. My daughters have even shared my phone number when shopping for themselves so that I can get points. I guess that’s fair since I did help pay for college (sarcasm).

Benefits of The Nordy Club

There’s a really informative page on the Nordstrom website that explains the benefits of being a part of The Nordy Club. Also, you may recall from my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale article that I was able to shop it early, because of my Nordy Club status.

Anyway, this chart (which I grabbed on that Nordstrom page) shows the different benefits you get through The Nordy Club. You’ll notice that some of these are Nordstrom Rack-exclusive benefits.

nordy club benefits

Where you can use Nordstrom cards and Nordstrom Notes

Good news: you can use the Nordstrom credit card, Nordstrom Gift Cards and Nordstrom Notes (which you earn via The Nordy Club) at both Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. Again, these are something you can use for in-person shopping or shopping online.

Stores open or closed on holidays

Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores are closed on holidays that some have come to expect to be shopping days instead. As I wrote in this article about stores closed on national holidays, these are the three holidays when Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack are not open:

  1. Easter
  2. Thanksgiving
  3. Christmas

On the other hand, if you’re wondering if Nordstrom is open on New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day or July 4th, the answer is yes, the stores are open.

Return policy: Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack

One of the reasons I’m a fan of the Nordstrom brand is because of the company’s excellent customer service. This includes the return policy at Nordstrom department stores.

Basically, they’ll take back anything you bought at the store. This is provided that you still have the attached tags on clothing or something is unopened, such as cosmetics or perfume.

Tags and receipts required

I say tags attached to clothing because there is one caveat to the return policy. And that’s with special occasions and designer clothing. Nordstrom wants to ensure people aren’t wearing something once for an event and then returning it. That’s why they require tags to still be on an item for a return.

Also, a receipt is helpful. There is no time limit on returns at department store locations.

The caveat is, of course, that you don’t abuse Nordstrom’s generosity in taking back items at any time. Because I imagine they would blacklist customers that regularly do this.

Finally, even though Nordstrom doesn’t have a lifetime guarantee, I’ve included the brand in my stories about these kinds of warranties. That’s because I’ve always found that Nordstrom stands behind everything it sells.

Nordstrom Rack returns

Now, Nordstrom Rack returns are a little different. For starters, you have 45 days to make a return at Nordstrom Rack for a full refund. This is true whether the item was purchased online or in store. 

Sidebar: you can make Nordstrom Rack returns at Nordstrom department store locations. The opposite is true, too. That is, you can take a Nordstrom purchase back to a Nordstrom Rack store.

If you want to return something after 45 days at Nordstrom Rack, the store may or may not take the item back. If they do, the store says you’ll get a refund equal to 50% of the original price you paid.

Nordstrom Rack categories final sale

At Nordstrom Rack, there are some items that are always final sale. And that would be beauty products.

On the other hand, if you purchase something and it’s marked “Final Sale” or “Non-Returnable,” then don’t even think about trying to return it. You’ve been informed upfront that you cannot. Maybe sell it on Poshmark instead to make some money?

Nordstrom locations vs Nordstrom Rack locations

Currently, there are 100 Nordstrom department stores and 248 Nordstrom Rack locations in North America. In addition, Nordstrom recently started a local hub version of Nordstrom that is called Nordstrom Local. There are seven of these stores now.

Where are Nordstrom stores located

You’ll find full-service Nordstrom department stores in these states:

  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Colorado (CO)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • Delaware (DE)
  • Florida (FL)
  • Georgia (GA)
  • Hawaii (HI)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Indiana (IN)
  • Kansas (KS)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Minnesota (MN)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • Nevada (NV)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Carolina (NC)
  • Ohio (OH)
  • Oregon (OR)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • Tennessee (TN)
  • Texas (TX)
  • Utah (UT)
  • Virginia (VA)
  • Washington State (WA)
  • Wisconsin (WI)

There are also Nordstrom department stores in Canada:

  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Vancouver, British Columbia

Where are Nordstrom Rack stores located

Seven Nordstrom Rack locations are in Canada. They are in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

The remaining 241 are in the United States. As far as what states where you’ll find Nordstrom Rack locations, they are:

  • AL (Alabama)
  • AK (Alaska)
  • AZ (Arizona)
  • CA (California)
  • CO (Colorado)
  • CT (Connecticut)
  • DC (Washington, DC)
  • DE (Delaware)
  • FL (Florida)
  • GA (Georgia)
  • HI (Hawaii)
  • ID (Idaho)
  • IL (Illinois)
  • IN (Indiana)
  • IA (Iowa)
  • KS (Kansas)
  • KY (Kentucky)
  • LA (Louisiana)
  • ME (Maine)
  • MD (Maryland)
  • MA (Massachusetts)
  • MI (Michigan)
  • MN (Minnesota)
  • MO (Missouri)
  • NC (North Carolina)
  • NJ (New Jersey)
  • NM (New Mexico)
  • NY (New York)
  • NV (Nevada)
  • OH (Ohio)
  • OK (Oklahoma)
  • OR (Oregon)
  • PA (Pennsylvania)
  • RI (Rhode Island)
  • SC (South Carolina)
  • TN (Tennessee)
  • TX (Texas)
  • UT (Utah)
  • VA (Virginia)
  • WA (Washington State)
  • WI (Wisconsin)

Conversely, there are no Nordstrom Rack locations in the following states:

  • Arkansas (AR)
  • Mississippi (MS)
  • Montana (MT)
  • Nebraska (NE)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • South Dakota (SD)
  • Vermont (VT)
  • West Virginia (WV)
  • Wyoming (WY)

Rakuten or Ebates: Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack

Great news: you can qualify for cash back from Rakuten (formerly Ebates) when you shop online at both Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. Now, that’s not a lot–I think it was 1% or 2% the last time I shopped. But cash back is cash in your pocket.

Here is my review of Rakuten.

Afterpay: Nordstrom vs Nordstrom Rack

In January 2022 Nordstrom announced it would begin offering a buy now, pay later option when shopping at Nordstrom stores. This includes Nordstrom department stores and Nordstrom Rack.

Right now, there are three options you can use that fall under the umbrella of buy now, pay later. 

  • Afterpay
  • Affirm
  • PayPal

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