Last year shoppers spent $405 billion at Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. But according to a new study by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, they might be better off if they switch stores.
For all the talk about Walmart’s low prices, 30,666 subscribers we surveyed said the prices at 10 other retailers, including JCPenney, Sears, Dillard’s, and Meijer, were at least as good. And bigger wasn’t necessarily better when it came to the overall shopping experience. Almost three-quarters of respondents who shopped at Walmart found at least one problem to complain about, and half had two or more complaints about the store or its staff.
Walmart and Kmart scored notably lower than the other chains, but Costco stood tall. In addition to citing the warehouse club’s rock-bottom prices, survey respondents praised its bang for the buck: It was the only store judged much better than average for value. In our surveys over the years, Costco has earned high marks as a source of a surprisingly large selection of goods, including mattresses, electronics, small appliances, groceries, and books. In recent years, the chain’s Kirkland Signature products have often performed well in our tests.
"Costco surprises consumers with great products and brands at exceptional prices," says Will Ander, senior partner in McMillanDoolittle, a retail-consulting firm in Chicago. "They don’t promise to have everything, but they do offer a true treasure hunt where everyone seems to find that exceptional item at an unbelievable price. Most customers will give you great satisfaction marks if you exceed their expectations, and Costco is light-years ahead of the other discount competitors in that respect."
Among our other findings:
•Four chains earned outstanding scores for merchandise quality: Costco (watches and jewelry, personal-care items, hardware, home décor, kitchenware, electronic entertainment such as music and DVDs, and sporting goods and toys), Dillard’s (men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing; personal-care items; home décor; and kitchenware), Macy’s (home décor and personal-care items), and Sears (hardware).
•Target’s "cheap chic" goods didn’t wow everyone. Despite its high-profile partnerships with fashionistas Cynthia Vincent, Eugenia Kim, and Zac Posen, survey respondents judged the quality of Target’s women’s clothing and watches and jewelry below average, and the store’s kitchenware, home décor, and men’s and children’s apparel average.
•When it came to service, Dillard’s stood out from the pack. According to Jack Abelson, president of Jack Abelson & Associates, a retail-consulting firm in Leawood, Kan., service is deteriorating industry-wide because of retailers’ fixation on low prices. "The trouble today," Abelson says, "is that the staff is not trained to be anything but glorified cashiers and security guards." Shoppers at Kmart, Walmart, and Sam’s Club (Walmart’s warehouse club spin-off) were more likely than others to complain about the staff.
•In addition to a lack of sales help, the most prevalent problems were that desired items were out of stock and that checkouts were jammed. In fact, 29 percent of shoppers we surveyed complained about long lines. The problems were much worse than average at Kmart, Walmart, and Meijer, a Midwestern chain of superstores.
Now this is interesting thank you for getting this info...I have long been not too happy with the Wallmart this one is a real ugly store being out in the 'sticks now there isnt too many choices .we do have target and the Malls but the figures you quote are good to know.....Incidently anyone wanting to take over this group is very welcome to,I have decided I dont want to be economical anymore lol
I just don't like Costco because of who we are supporting when we shop there. Its one of those things that boggles my mind that we even allow him to have a place of business in this country.
Having said that....
I have found that if I look and shop for clearances then I can find good quality clothing at Belks and JC Penneys cheaper than walmart. Dillards, here in my city is pathetic. You can't find anyone to help you and when you do, they are wanting you to pity them because they are so overworked.
And customer service? do they even teach that any more? Remember when you used to ask where a certain item was? they would take you to it. What do they do now? Just point to it, and say over there 4 rows up and around the corner...Now that tells me nothing about the location of an item I am searching for......
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