These Are the Most Hated Retail Store Chains in America (Plus the Stores People Really Love)

A poor PR campaign or bad customer service is all it takes to give a store a bad name. And thanks to a new Harris Poll survey, we know the reputations of 100 companies according to consumers. These are the most hated U.S. retailers of all. One of America’s most popular brands is now on its last leg (on page 15).

15. Starbucks

A Starbucks cup

Starbucks lost its coffee foothold in 2018. | marcoprati/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • RQ score: 73.94/100

In May 2018, the coffee purveyor faced a PR nightmare when two black men — who explained they were waiting for a friend inside the store — were arrested for “trespassing” in a Philadelphia Starbucks. Social media users called for a boycott of Starbucks, detailed by Business Insider.

In an attempt to recover its image, the coffee chain closed all stores to conduct racial-bias training for its 175,000 employees. Starbucks eventually settled out of court with the two men, who have not disclosed the settlement amount.

Next: Have you shopped here in the last year?

14. Nordstrom

Nordstrom sign on a storefront

Nordstrom is fighting the retail battle. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 73.54/100

Nordstrom isn’t circling the drain like other department stores. However, the retailer is struggling to adapt to e-commerce trends and the death of shopping malls. If Nordstrom became a private company, it could experiment with new retail practices. So the Nordstrom family sought to buy out shareholders. Unfortunately, they couldn’t agree about the value of public shares, explains Forbes, so the company faces an uncertain future.

Next: This retail store has been called “dull” and “unexciting.”

13. Macy’s

A Macy's shopper

Macy’s stores don’t generate a lot of excitement. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 72.51/100

In 2017, the department store closed many locations and faced a 50% loss in shares. This year doesn’t look much better, as customers believe shopping at Macy’s is a “chore.” Sale signs fill the unexciting stores, and “there is little encouragement to linger,” explains Forbes. When shoppers enter Macy’s, they see dull surroundings and suffering clothing lines.

Next: Consumers mourned the death of the Dollar Menu.

12. McDonald’s

McDonald's Meal

Prices have gone up at McDonald’s. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 72.39/100

America has a love/hate relationship with this fast-food giant. Diners were unhappy to see McDonald’s revise its Dollar Menu to a “Dollar Menu & More,” offering a few $1 items alongside pricier options. Its more complicated menu now includes artisan salads, smoothies, and fancy coffees. McDonald’s franchise owners have been warned of a rise in “employee unfriendliness.” And many consumers have noticed an increase in wait time at drive-throughs.

Next: “Call failed” is the norm for this mobile carrier.

11. T-Mobile

T-Mobile store

A T-Mobile storefront |

  • RQ score: 71.74/100

T-Mobile faces three huge issues. First, its customers complain of poor coverage, especially in rural areas. Second, T-Mobile tends to offer shortsighted promotional offers, which causes customers’ bills to go up extremely high when the promotion is done. And finally, a lot of T-Mobile products have been sold via third-party vendors, who overpromise T-Mobile advantages and underdeliver customer service.

Next: Lawsuits have soiled this messy store’s reputation.

10. Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree window

Shoppers aren’t fans of the Dollar Tree for many reasons. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 71.5/100

You may be able to buy a steak filet for $1, but low prices don’t make up for dirty, unorganized stores and poorly paid employees. Dollar Trees are notoriously understaffed and they’ve faced multiple lawsuits from former employees, including a case where the store refused to pay death benefits to the family of an employee who was killed in a racially-motivated attack while on the job. Although Dollar Tree is a true dollar store — everything is $1 or less, no exceptions — it can’t make up for poor quality and bad PR.

Next: Customers dread entering this wireless carrier’s retail stores.

9. Verizon

A Verizon store displays their TV persona.

A San Francisco Verizon location displays their TV personality. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 70.32/100

Verizon’s network once dominated other wireless carriers, and its customers gladly paid for it. Recently, however, more affordable carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint have nearly caught up. In early 2018, Verizon’s profits fell 24% as consumers switched to cheaper alternatives. Poor customer service and employee care — remember the 2016 Verizon strike? — caused the carrier to slip further from Americans’ minds.

Next: Beware of the retailer who could ruin your car.

8. Dollar General

Dollar General storefront

Multiple lawsuits haven’t helped Dollar General’s reputation. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 69.73/100

The retailer added close to 1,300 stores in 2017, but multiple lawsuits didn’t help its reputation. Many of the legal battles involve Dollar General’s “motor oil,” which appears on auto shelves but features small labels warning consumers of using the oil for “engines built after 1988.” Another oil on its auto shelves is actually meant for lawnmowers and air compressors as well as engines built before 1930.

Next: This retailer’s reputation doesn’t hurt its bottom line.

7. Walmart


Walmart is big and profitable, but not necessarily well-liked. | Wolterk/iStock/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 68.52/100

It seems like everybody hates Walmart for one reason or another, but it clearly doesn’t hurt the bottom line. It’s one of the biggest, most profitable, and, yes, most hated stores in the world, yet your retail dollar is basically boiling down to an Amazon against Walmart battle.

Next: Customers dread working with this retailer.

6. AT&T

The AT&T logo

AT&T charges too much for its services, say critics. | Etienne Franchi/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 68.31/100

With more than 16,000 locations in the United States, AT&T’s retail business is a bigger piece of the pie than you may realize. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t have a great reputation because it charges way too much money for its services.

Next: This company is not the “king” of its industry.

5. Burger King

Burger King in Chicago

Unhealthy food and corporate blunders are hurting Burger King’s reputation. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 68.26/100

Fast food doesn’t have a great reputation in the health-conscious United States, and we’ll head to another fast food joint in a minute. Between the unhealthy food, corporate blunders, and gross menu items no one wanted in the first place, Burger King has one of the worst reputations in America.

Next: Have you shopped at this outdated retailer lately?

4. JCPenney

A man shops for jeans in a JCPenny store at the Manhattan Mall

J.C. Penney is struggling to attract customers. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 68.07/100

Lots of department stores that focus primarily on fashion are struggling, but J.C. Penney is totally failing to attract customers. Not adapting to digital retail and closing 140 stores doesn’t indicate a solid future, which is one of the reasons its one of the most hated stores in America with a bad reputation to boot.

Next: Diners have polarizing opinions about this fast-casual food chain.

3. Chipotle

A Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant is seen in Washington, DC, December 22, 2015. Chipotle shares tumbled on news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of E. coli that may be unrelated to a previous one in November that led to 53 cases in nine states.

A food poisoning scandal hurt Chipotle’s reputation. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 67.69/100

The Harris Poll reputation rankings rate 100 retailers and other companies. Chipotle is No. 75 overall and the worst restaurant chain in America. Sure, there are some tasty secret menu items, but the restaurant is still recovering from foodborne illness outbreaks that made hundreds of people sick.

Next: Consumers constantly look for alternatives to this company.

2. Sprint

Heading to the Sprint store to get a new phone isn’t a fun activity for many Americans. | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 67.30/100

We visited AT&T, another hated phone carrier, a few minutes ago, and now we take a look at Sprint. Both of them have bad reputations, but Sprint is worse. People constantly look for alternatives to get out of having to deal with one of the most hated retailers in America.

Next: A steep drop in the score takes us to the most hated store on our list.

1. Sears

Sears Holdings

Could the news get any worse for Sears? | Felixmizioznikov/iStock/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 64.09/100

For now, Sears still shows up on a list of the most hated stores, but for how long? It’s hemorrhaging money, closed about 180 stores in 2017, and has one of the most hated CEOs of all time. Sears is No. 88 out of 100 companies in The Harris Poll reputation rankings, but the others behind it aren’t in retail, which makes Sears No.1 on the list of most hated stores in America.

Next: The 10 most loved retail stores in America are doing nearly everything right.

The most loved retailers in America

Now that we’ve visited the most hated retail chain stores in the country, let’s check out the retailers everyone loves. We hope you brought your appetite because — spoiler alert — we’ll spend quite a bit of time in the grocery aisle.

10. L.L. Bean

Tom Morrison sorts boxed orders in the L.L. Bean shipping center

L.L. Bean’s many “made in America” products and fair prices make it popular with shoppers. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 79.83

L.L. Bean probably doesn’t turn as much as a profit as other clothing retailers, but that’s by design. The company aims to sell you high-quality clothes at a fair price, and since it’s been in business for more than 100 years, we’d say it’s hitting the target. Whether or not you like the prices, it has some of the longest-lasting clothes you can buy.

Next: This retailer isn’t going away anytime soon.

9. Nike

Nike To Lay Off 2 Percent Of Global Workforce Amid Drop In Sales

Shoppers aren’t going to stop visiting Nike stores anytime soon. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 80.24

Whether or not you like Nike, the company isn’t going away anytime soon. It has stores in almost every state and on four continents, and it’s continued success makes founder Phil Knight one of the richest Americans ever.

Next: A store that has good prices and a great reputation.

8. Aldi

Customers shop at an Aldi grocery store

Bargain-priced groceries at Aldi put a smile on shoppers’ faces. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 80.43

The cheap food prices and other secrets that help you save money are pluses, but Aldi checks some of the other boxes that make it a great retailer. The company has a solid plan for the future, treats its employees well, and outperforms most of its national competitors.

Next: A clothing company getting it right.

7. Patagonia


Patagonia embraces social responsiblity, which endears the company to its fans. | Patagonia via Facebook

  • RQ score: 80.44

Two components factoring into the reputation quotient are having quality products and displaying social responsibility. Patagonia excels at both. Its clothes seem to last forever, and it didn’t hesitate to fight Donald Trump when the president shrunk the size of two national monuments.

Next: Another grocery chain with a great reputation.

6. Publix


Shoppers consistently name Publix as one of their favorite grocery stores. | Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 80.81

Publix is perennially one of America’s favorite grocery stores because of its outstanding deals, great selection, and excellent customer service. Its reputation is reflected in the Harris Poll survey, where it’s not only one of the top supermarkets but one of the top retailers, period.

Next: Treating employees fairly is a foundation for the way this retailer does business.

5. H-E-B

HEB grocery store

HEB is another grocery store that consumers love. | typhoonski/ Images

  • RQ score: 81.14

If having a good workplace environment is one of the keys to a good reputation according to The Harris Poll, then it’s hard to imagine any company outdoing H-E-B. The grocery chain offers terrific job security and several benefits employees love.

Next: Retail stores are a big part of the business for this company.

4. The Walt Disney Company

Mickey and Minnie Mouse stuffed animals in the Disney Store

Shopping at the Disney Store puts a smile on people’s faces. | Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 81.53

We understand that your Disney trips account for a lot of the company’s revenue, but retail is still a huge part of the business. According to Statista, retail stores did $1.58 billion in revenue in 2017. The overall financial stability, emotional appeal, and lovable products ensure Disney is the polar opposite of the most hated stores in America.

Next: You either love or hate this fast-food chain.

3. Chick-fil-A

Drive through customers wait in line at a Chick-fil-A restaurant

Chick-fil-a is one of the most popular fast food restaurants in the U.S. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 81.68

Even though it tries to hide some dark and surprising secrets, Chick-fil-A is a fast food giant. Despite having just a fraction of the locations and not being open on Sundays, the chain is threatening to take down McDonald’s. Despite the many reasons people hate Chick-fil-A, it has one of the best reputations of any retailer in the U.S.

Next: Small footprint, big impact

2. Wegmans

happy employee at Wegmans

Wegmans is famous for treating its employees with the utmost respect. | Wegmans Food Markets

  • RQ score: 82.75

Wegmans has just 92 stores in a few eastern states, but shoppers are genuinely obsessed with the grocery chain. Great prices, knowledgeable employees, and excellent customer service make it one of the most loved grocery stores in America and one of the retailers with a great reputation.

Next: A company doing everything right and has the best reputation in America.

1. Amazon

Amazon Buys Whole Foods For Over 13 Billion

People love the convenience of shopping at Amazon. | David Ryder/Getty Images

  • RQ score: 83.22

The company that sells everything, makes a ton of money, and has a famous CEO has another thing going for it. Amazon is the company with the best reputation in America. Sure, you know Amazon for its online sales, but it has several physical retail store projects in the works, which is why it shows up on our list.

NextHow Harries calculates the Reputation Quotient. 

How Harris tallies the Reputation Quotient

People Buy From People They Trust

Harris polled more than 25,000 Americans to develop its RQ scores.| sapfirr/ Images

  • Six components factor into the final RQ score.

Harris polled more than 25,000 American adults between Dec. 11, 2017, and Jan. 12, 2018, and asked them to mention two companies with the best reputations and two with the worst reputations. Then, the 100 most visible companies are given average scores on a 0-100 scale based on six components:

  • Emotional appeal: Trust, admiration, and respect.
  • Financial performance: Sustained profitability, does better than competitors, room to grow.
  • Products and services: Quality, innovation, and value.
  • Social responsibility: Community and environmental responsibility; supports good causes.
  • Vision and leadership: Strong leadership and a clear vision for the future.
  • Workplace environment: Good employees, rewards employees, and is a good place to work.

Any score of 80 or above is considered excellent. Scores between 55-64 are poor, 50-54 is very poor, and under 50 is awful.

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