Costco pleased shoppers better than any other retailer, according to the latest Consumer Reports survey of more than 26,000 readers who told the organization about their shopping experience at 10 of the nation’s major retailers.
Consumer Reports National Research Center subscribers described 55,108 shopping experiences at Costco, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, Kmart, Sears, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Macy’s. For the first time, some shoppers also told Consumer Reports about their experiences at many of those retailers’ online stores.
Costco was the only chain to earn an outstanding grade for the overall quality of its merchandise, whether in stores or online. And it earned above-average scores for all 10 product categories rated, including electronic entertainment, jewelry and sporting goods. Costco’s website did better than its walk-in stores on all counts except product quality (for which the two types tied) and earned top marks for layout, product value and checkout.
However, in-store shoppers found a few chinks in Costco’s armor: The chain’s walk-in stores scored below average for selection, checkout (because of long lines) and service.
The complete ratings for all 10 chains, including in-store and online ratings for quality, value checkout, customer service and in-store and website layout are available online or in the March issue of Consumer Reports on sale now.
Meijer scored better than some others for layout and the quality of kitchenware, personal-care items, and electronic entertainment, but scores for its clothing were lukewarm.
Target boasts that its stores are easy to navigate, and Consumer Reports readers rated its layouts higher than for some other chains. Otherwise, the in-store shopping experience was just average, and Target’s website was not considered especially easy to use.
Sam’s Club stores, both virtual and real, scored about the same as Sears overall. Readers who shopped at its walk-in stores complained of long checkout lines and limited selection but rated product quality and layout as better than average.
Walmart and Kmart walk-in stores scored much lower than those of other retailers. Walmart might be associated with low prices, but respondents said the product value was better at Costco and Kohl’s. Kmart was the only chain to score below average for value. Kmart also received low marks for selection, service and checkout speed. Walmart shoppers were especially likely to complain about long checkout lines and inadequate customer service.
In addition, 23 percent of the Walmart shoppers who returned an item to one of its stores the previous year reported at least one problem, significantly more than at any other retailer. (The problem was usually that they were offered only store credit.)
Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization and has more than 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.