The Difference Between Nordstrom And Nordstrom Rack

The Difference Between Nordstrom And Nordstrom Rack

While Nordstrom is a staple at malls across America, the Seattle-based retailer is still fairly new to Canadians. Nordstrom launched in 2014, while Nordstrom Rack launched in 2018.

If you’ve never ventured into a Nordstrom location, the department store is renown for its collection of high-end fashion, homewares, and accessories. But for those looking for discounts, Nordstrom Rack, while not nearly as glamorous, offers some of the same labels at more accessible prices.

nordstrom and nordstrom rack

One brand. Two concepts. What’s a shopper to do? 

If you’re trying to decide whether you should plan a shopping trip to Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack, we’ve got a rundown of the differences you can expect to find when shopping at both stores.

Store Design and Layout

designer shoe department
The shoe department at Nordstrom

The Nordstrom shopping experience is all about luxury. The store we visited at CF Toronto Eaton Centre is big and bright, spanning over multiple levels with a clear divide between categories like footwear, jewelry, menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, home, handbags, eyewear, and beauty. Neat and tidy, beautiful accessories, furniture, and fixtures help elevate the store’s ambiance and tell different brand stories, while in-store restaurants make a visit to Nordstrom a true one-stop shop experience.

difference between nordstrom and nordstrom rack
The shoe department at Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack is similar in that the space is big and bright. The store we visited at Heartland Town Centre spans over one large sales floor and is divided into different sections: handbags and accessories, home, menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, and footwear. Unlike a Nordstrom store, Nordstrom Rack focuses less on the overall experience and more on the deals and shopping. Basic fixtures are scattered throughout the store and are teeming with merchandise.

Customer Service

beauty department
The beauty department at Nordstrom

One noticeable difference between Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack is the customer service. While Nordstrom employees are quick to offer assistance, we found that Nordstrom Rack employees are more focused on tidying and leave you to do your thing. However, the customer service is great at both stores if you require assistance.

Pro tip: Take advantage of Nordstrom’s personal stylist service, which is completely free of charge.

The Designers

Miu Miu shop-in-shop
Miu Miu at Nordstrom

If you’re looking for the world’s top luxury brands, a visit to Nordstrom is a no-brainer. At Nordstrom, you’ll find shop-in-shops for Gucci, Burberry, and Miu Miu, to name a few, as well as spaces carved out for other mid-price to high-end designer names like Rebecca Minkoff, Madewell, Mackage, Canada Goose, Nordstrom’s in-house lines, and more.

nordstrom and nordstrom rack
The designer section at Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack also features dedicated sections for designer items, though these sections aren’t as large in comparison to Nordstrom and mostly feature mid-price brands. In the designer section, we found labels like Vince, Eileen Fisher, Moose Knuckles, Nike, Ted Baker, Rebecca Minkoff, Levi’s, and Champion, as well as plenty of Nordstrom’s in-house lines.

With that being said, there are a lot of designer gems to be found at Nordstrom Rack, particularly in the shoe section. We found discounts on Prada, Stella McCartney, Miu Miu, Tory Burch, and more.

Pro tip: If you spot something you like at Nordstrom Rack, scoop it up! Not everything will come in full size ranges or multiples — if you don’t grab it, someone else surely will.


difference between Nordstrom and nordstrom rack
A clearance item at Nordstrom Rack

Nordstrom Rack is the off-price division of Nordstrom, so you’ll find prices of up to 70% off there. While you can find prices in the the three digit range, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything in the thousands, which is great for the more wallet-conscious. The store also features clearance sections where you can find even deeper discounts.

Burberry shop-in-shop
Burberry at Nordstrom

On the flip side, Nordstrom is a full-price store, and with labels like Moncler, Gucci, Burberry, and more, it’s easy to make a big dent in your wallet. But as mentioned previously, Nordstrom has a vast variety of offerings, with mid-priced brands and in-house labels landing on the more accessible side and clearance sections with deep discounts come sale season.

Pro tip: Every July, Nordstrom hosts its Anniversary Sale where you can score discounts on brand new arrivals and classics.

Special Features

personalization shopping
The personalization station at Nordstrom

Another noticeable difference between Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack are the pop-in shops and services that Nordstrom offers. At the time of visiting, Nordstrom featured pop-ins like Everlane and Nike, giving shoppers even more reason to stop in and visit. We also spotted customization services like engraving and embroidery, which you won’t be able to find at a Nordstrom Rack.

All-in-all, both stores are worth a visit.

If you’re the type of shopper who has an open mind and loves the thrill of the hunt, visit Nordstrom Rack. But if you’re looking for something specific and value hands-on customer service, you’ll want to hit up Nordstrom.

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