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Release Date: 02/07/2012

CR Survey: Costco Tops List Of Major Retail Chain Stores

More than 26,000 shoppers rate both in-store and online shopping experience

March 2012 CoverYONKERS, NY— Costco pleased shoppers better than any other retailer according to Consumer Reports survey of more than 26,000 readers who told the organization about their shopping experience at 10 of the nations major retailers.

In its latest report, the Consumer Reports National Research Center subscribers told Consumer Reports about 55,108 shopping experiences at Costco, JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, and Walmart. 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, and its shoppers were more likely than those elsewhere to complain about a lack of fitting rooms.

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 at www.ConsumerReports.org or in the March issue of Consumer Reports starting February 7, 2012.

In addition to Costco, Kohl’s and JCPenney earned above average scores for the quality of their goods in all product categories for which we had sufficient responses. People were especially happy with the value and layout at Kohl’s stores.

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 especially easy to use.
 
Macy’s stores rated better than average for product quality and layout. Macy’s was the only chain besides Costco to receive raves for its kitchenware and personal-care products. Readers also praised the chain’s clothing and home-décor selections.

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.

Sears’ overall scores for its walk-in stores and website were similar, but the chain’s online customer service rated lower than its walk-in service. Respondents said Sears, Costco, and Sam’s Club were better places to buy hardware.

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 was the only chain to earn below-average scores for the quality of its men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. (Kmart received below-average scores for men’s and women’s clothing.) 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.)

In addition to the store ratings, the report also includes Consumer Reports reader scores for the product offerings at all of the major stores including clothing, watches and jewelry, personal care, hardware, home décor, kitchenware, electronic entertainment, and sporting goods and toys. Those results are also available at www.ConsumerReports.org or in the March issue of Consumer Reports.   

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.   Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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