Americans Are Falling Out of Love with These Failing Retailers

Shoppers are very demanding. At least that’s what the latest ACSI consumer satisfaction report suggests. The American Customer Satisfaction Index analyzes customer ratings of the quality of products and services available in America’s most prominent retail stores. Intense online competition and a cutthroat approach for survival has many failing retailers struggling to regain loyalty among American consumers.

Reported satisfaction levels tend to correlate with annual earnings and overall success. People are in love with stores like Cabela’s, Costco, and Publix, but new data shows that feeling doesn’t extend to many others. Should a downward spiral persist, these low-scoring retailers may find themselves in a hole too deep to crawl out of. Some struggling retailers may come as a huge surprise (no. 2 and no.8), others have been circling the drain for a while now (no. 11 and no.14).


a wal-mart employee adjusts a sign ahead of Black Friday

Have you ever gotten a lower price than listed? Watch what that teaches your children. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A 1% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 71

Walmart saw a 1% decline overall in customer satisfaction among American customers. The discount retailer is considered by many to be Amazon’s primary competition, and they have been working hard on building their internet presence. Despite the increased focus on being a real online competitor and attempts to improve shipping capabilities, Walmart is still lagging in many aspects according to consumers.

Next: A favorite among millennials 


target store

The satisfaction rating has gone down. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • A 3% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 77

Breitbart reports Target has lost roughly $10 billion since the announcement of its transgender bathroom policy in 2016. A dozen underperforming stores are also closing in 2018, based on profitability metrics. Investors seem to believe there’s no room for a third wheel in the duel between Walmart and Amazon. This battle is cemented by a 3% decline in overall customer satisfaction, landing the chain a spot on ACSI’s list of retailers losing significant ground with American consumers.

Next: Customers don’t trust this retailer

Auto Zone


Suspicious customers are sinking the score. | Raedle/Getty Images

  • A 3% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 78

Consumers are already suspicious of auto parts stores — just look at the controversy surrounding Jiffy Lube’s customer gripes. Auto Zone is another failing retailer that’s sinking in shopper satisfaction. Same-store sales fell unexpectedly, while competitor, O’Reilly Auto Parts proceeded to gain traction with consumers.

Next: A dilemma for Burlington


Burlington Coat Factory

It’s still competing with other discount retailers.| jetcityimage/iStock/Getty Images

  • A 3% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 77

Though Burlington is making headway in profit margins, it is still struggling to win the hearts of customers. Burlington continues to compete with off-price retailers like Ross that offer similar inventory at a more affordable price. And as we know, low prices usually emerge victorious in the end when it comes to customer loyalty.

Next: Is this store even relevant?

Office Depot

office depot

Most people buy their office supplies online now. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A 3% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 77

It’s been a bumpy few years for Office Depot. But to be fair, its biggest competitor, Staples, isn’t doing too hot either. ACSI shows a satisfaction rating 3% lower than this time last year as customers grow increasingly unhappy with their specialty selection. Technology innovation has rendered things like pencils and paper useless, and Office Depot’s sinking stock values show it. It’s on track to shut down 300 additional stores as a result of consumer disinterest.

Next: A retailer that’s losing ground with shoppers


Front of a belk store

The department store is in the middle of the pack, but dropping steadily. | Windyshadow32/Wikimedia Commons

  • A 4% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 77

Online retailers are putting pressure on department stores to step up their service game to retain customers. Belk falls middle of the pack when it comes to overall department store satisfaction, but it tanked in favorability year-over-year. CEO shake-ups and lackluster online sales (despite selling other stores’ brands on their website) definitely contributed to this fall from grace.

Next: Customers don’t appreciate the mess in this department store


JCPenney store front

The store has desperately been trying to win back customers. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • A 4% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 79

No one will be surprised to see JCPenney on a list of struggling retailers. The chain has been grasping at straws for years, trying to win back customers who’ve ditched them for Amazon and Walmart. Forget closing hundreds of stores and sinking profits, customers are unhappy with their shopping experience most of all. Business Insider did a bit of sleuth shopping and uncovered messy aisles, damaged inventory, and garbage on the floor inside a popular NYC store.

Next: A tricky situation for this popular store

Dollar Tree

dollar tree store

A surprising drop for the dollar store. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A 4% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 77

Discount stores like Dollar Tree are booming thanks to its convenience and low prices. The chain has opened over 600 new stores in the past 12 months and posted earnings 40% higher year-over-year. Still, Dollar Tree is one of the failing retailers with the biggest decline in consumer satisfaction in 2017.

How could this be? Well, Dollar Tree took some heat for selling toxic products harmful to our health, so maybe that’s the reason for the decline. This suggests consumers will shop there to save a buck, but they won’t be happy about it.

Next: A bump in the road for this game store



People just aren’t heading to GameStop like they used to. | RiverNorthPhotography/iStock/Getty Images

  • A 4% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 77

GameStop posted winning numbers following the holiday season, thanks to profitable video game sales. Customers seem to trust the retailer’s authority when it comes to gaming, but not in technology — its other product sector.

Executives believe GameStop’s 4-point loss in customer satisfaction and loyalty may be attributed to consumers not upgrading their phones as frequently as expected. And when they do, they’re going elsewhere.

Next: This store can attract them, but can they keep them?

Big Lots

big lots shopping cart and logo

Big Lots has always ranked in the bottom. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

  • A 4% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 74

Big Lots has never really fared well with the average American. Shoppers continually rank the retailer in the bottom four department stores for overall satisfaction. But 2017 saw an even sharper decline, landing Big Lots solidly in the bottom 10 retailers — across all categories — when it comes to shopping experience. Rising sales numbers prove Big Lots can successfully attract disgruntled customers fleeing other competing stores, but satisfaction ratings suggest Big Lot’s inventory leaves a lot to be desired.

Next: Continuing issues plague this store


Kmart store

There have been plenty of bankruptcy talks. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • A 5% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 80

At one point, Kmart could barely afford to stock its shelves. There’s talk of bankruptcy and layoffs for full-time employees. Surely, this dilemma leaves customers feeling disappointed when they can’t find what they need in store or locate a service employee for assistance.

Next: A hard fall for this department store


Dillard's store exterior

They have had a really bad year. | Jonesdr77/Wikimedia Commons

  • A 5% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 79

Dillard’s may have experienced the most disappointing 2017. Customers had a lot of love in their hearts for the department store last year — it took first place overall — but dropped significantly after a 5% shift in satisfaction. An overall score of 79 places them on par with JCPenney and Kohl’s, which have also seen better days.

Next: A failing retailer that’s losing to competitors in the same industry

Home Depot

home depot store

Competitors are seeing better reviews. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A 5% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 76

Apparently, there’s no love for Home Depot anymore. It now owns last place in the entire specialty retail category. To pour salt on the wound, competitors Menards and Lowe’s remain on pleasantly favorable terms with shoppers. Home Depot outperforms Lowe’s in terms of profitability, but it seems shoppers still pledge loyalty elsewhere when it comes customer service, sales and promotions, and experience.

Next: No surprise here


Sears Holdings

It’s been a losing battle for a while. | Felixmizioznikov/iStock/Getty Images

  • A 5% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 73

Sears took another hard fall in 2017, losing 5% and boasting a meek 73 satisfaction score. The company closed nearly 400 stores last year with more slated for 2018. Customers are no longer willing to wait patiently as Sears attempts an online retail venture and they’re less than happy with the experience shopping inside a physical store. However, revenue and satisfaction may rise again, now that Sears is selling appliances on Amazon.

Next: Widespread problems

Albertsons Companies


The chain purchases struggling stores. | SweetBabeeJay/iStock/Getty Images

  • A 6% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 78

Albertsons is a grocery store whose subsidiaries operate under names such as Safeway, Shaw’s, and Acme. The company is also in the process of buying Rite Aid, which is on its last leg. Albertsons has a history of purchasing struggling stores, which is directly correlated with their tanking consumer satisfaction rating. It dropped a hefty six points year-over-year.

Next: Consumers have no love for this store

Dollar General

Dollar General storefront

Employees are not happy. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • A 6% drop and an overall satisfaction score of 73

The formula is simple. Unhappy employees generate unhappy customers. Dollar General has faced countless company lawsuits for failing to pay overtime and treating employees unfairly.

Like Dollar Tree, sales are booming, as it added nearly 1,300 stores to its footprint in 2017, but customer appreciation extends only to the low prices. Only Sears and Walmart have a worse customer rating than Dollar General. That could change quickly, as the store’s favorability sank lower than any other retailer on ACSI list by a whopping six points.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!