Americans love Trader Joe’s and Amazon. Those two stores earned top marks in the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s survey. But respondents were disappointed by many other big chains, which they rated based on factors, including cleanliness, checkout speed, merchandise selection, and customer service.
In general, most stores are doing a better job making customers happy, the survey found. Overall satisfaction scores are up 4.7 points since 2016 to 78.3, the highest ever. Retailers have made efforts to improve the customer experience, such as expanding online purchasing and store pickup options, which has helped boost scores. Lower gas and food prices also put shoppers in a better mood overall. But there’s a dark side to the higher customer satisfaction ratings.
Although almost every store in the six categories surveyed improved their satisfaction rating, many are still earning below-average ratings, including retail behemoths, such as Walmart. Shoppers were especially disappointed with their experience at the following 16 most hated stores. In fact, No. 9 recently announced plans to close 60 stores across the country.
Overstock.com was the lowest-scoring store in the online retail category, earning 79 out of 100 points. The average score for internet retailers was 83 out of 100. Still, despite its poor showing among its online competitors, Overstock.com scored better than many brick-and-mortar stores. After all, you never have to wait in line to buy online.
Next: A popular clothing store.
15. Ann Taylor
Ann Taylor and other stores owned by the Ascena Retail Group (including Maurices, Justice, Lane Bryant, and Dress Barn) scored 78 out of 100, two points below the average score in the specialty retail category. Like many mall chains, the company’s stores have been struggling. Sales were down 9% at Ann Taylor stores in the second fiscal quarter of 2017, and they fell 8% at Maurices. Overall, Ascena lost $35 million in the quarter.
Next: Just because people love their pets, doesn’t mean they love all things pet related.
San Diego-based Petco, the second-largest pet store chain in the country, had a customer satisfaction score of 78, lower than the average rating in the specialty store category. Petco has more than 1,500 stores in the U.S. and Mexico. The pet store industry is growing, but the chain could face pressure from newer retailers, such as Chewy.com, which is muscling in on online pet supply sales, where Petco doesn’t have much of a presence.
Petco’s biggest rival, Petsmart, is the largest pet store chain in the U.S., and it matched its competitor in customer satisfaction scores. The company is opening new stores to meet pet parents’ demand for treats and toys; adding amenities, such as pet spas, to its stores; and enhancing its approach to e-commerce, according to Pet Business. Those efforts could pay off in the form of higher customer satisfaction scores in the future.
Next: When having “best” in your name isn’t good enough.
12. Best Buy
Best Buy, the largest electronics retailer in the U.S., scored 77 out of 100 in customer satisfaction, a 4% increase from 2016. People are buying fewer gadgets at the store than in the past, with sales down during 2016 Christmas shopping season, Bloomberg reported. We all know what eventually happened to Circuit City, right?
11. Big Lots
Big Lots, a department store that focuses on selling overstock or discontinued merchandise, earned a less-than-impressive score from customers, with 77 out 100 points in the specialty store category. Still, that was a 4% improvement from 2016, when it scored 74 points. Many shoppers enjoy the “treasure hunt” aspect of stores like Big Lots, but similar discount chains, such as TJ Maxx, scored better on the survey.
10. Toys R Us
Toys R Us might be the biggest toy store chain in the U.S., but customers aren’t necessarily wowed by the service they receive there. The store scored 77 out of 100 points in the specialty category. Shoppers have good reason to be dissatisfied. Customers have reported shelves empty of popular toys, and the store has also had trouble filling online orders in the past. The company recently laid off 15% of employees at its corporate office in an attempt to get things back on track.
Next: The next store on the list used to be the cool kid in the retail industry.
9. Abercrombie & Fitch
Teen-friendly mall chain Abercrombie & Fitch earned the lowest customer satisfaction score in the specialty retail category, with 76 out of 100 points. The chain has been struggling for several years, as younger shoppers turn to hipper fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M and Forever 21. Sales are down, and the company recently announced plans to close 60 stores. The silver lining is the store’s satisfaction ratings are improving. After scoring a dismal 65 out of 100 in 2016 (the lowest score of any retailer in any category) it managed to boost its rating by 17% in 2017.
Discount chain Ross had a customer satisfaction score of 76, the second-lowest score in the department store category. While shoppers didn’t give it the highest marks, the chain is still forging ahead with expansion plans, with 90 stores set to open in 2017. Cost-conscious shoppers like discount stores like Ross, which they think offer a better value than full-price chains, even if the selection and customer service aren’t always on par with traditional department stores.
Drugstore chain CVS score 76 out of 100 for customer satisfaction. It was tied for last place with Walgreens and Walmart in the health and personal care category. The average score in this category was 78, but the top store, Kmart, earned 84 points, in part because it has “only the most loyal of customers left” shopping at its pharmacies. Still, CVS improved its score by 7% over 2016.
Illinois-based Walgreens tied with CVS for a score of 76 in the health and personal care retailer category. The chain is in the process of trying to merge with Rite-Aid, which earned slightly higher marks for customer satisfaction than Walgreens. If the merger goes through, the company would be the largest drugstore chain in the United States.
5. Stop & Shop
Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize owns Stop & Shop, Food Lion, and Hannaford grocery chains. Collectively, they scored 76 out of 100 in customer satisfaction, well below industry leaders Trader Joe’s, Publix, Aldi, and Wegman’s, which all scored 83 or higher. In a separate 2016 survey by Marketforce, Stop & Shop received poor marks for store cleanliness, cashier courtesy, and item availability.
4. Cub Foods
Minnesota-based Supervalu, which owns Cub Foods, Shop ‘N Save, Hornbacher’s, and other grocery stores, scored 76 out of 100 in customer satisfaction. Supervalu-owned chains Cub and Shoppers were also ranked in the bottom half of U.S. grocery stores by Consumer Reports in 2015. Pressure from other grocery chains is hurting Supervalu’s profits, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Albertsons Companies operates numerous grocery stores across the U.S., including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s. Collectively, these stores scored 76 out of 100 in customer satisfaction. Their low rankings might be due to finicky customers who now have more options in a crowded grocery market. Today, a customer who might have bought most items on their shopping list from a supermarket like Albertsons is more likely to visit multiple stores, an analysis by the Food Marketing Institute found.
2. Giant Eagle
Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle earned 74 out of 100 points in the supermarkets category, for a last-place tie with Walmart. Still, its score improved 10% over 2016. Falling food prices and increased competition have triggered layoffs at the company’s corporate headquarters in recent months. Giant Eagle was in the bottom 15 of grocery stores nationwide, according to the Consumer Reports ranking.
Walmart came in dead last in the department and discount store category, with 72 out of 100 points, the lowest score of any store this year. It also took last place in the drugstore and supermarket categories, though its score was slightly higher in those areas. Why don’t people like Walmart? Poor customer service, disorganized and poorly stocked stores, and lower quality merchandise might be to blame, Marketwatch speculated.