5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports rates big-box chain stores

Posted February 23, 2012

— When it comes to shopping, especially at large stores, the options are endless.

Big-box giants and major department stores allow people to buy everything they need in one spot, but finding the right combination of price and service is key. 

Consumer Reports recently polled its readers about which stores offer the best deals on the products people buy the most. 

"We asked readers to rate their experiences at major chaings, both in-store and online," Consumer Reports' Kim Kleman said. "We asked them about quality, selection, value, customer service and how easy it was to check out." 

More than 26,000 readers responded, rating stores like Target, WalMart, Macy's, Kohl's and even warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club. 

"The biggest complaints we got about walk-in store were long lines, lack of sales help and out-of-stock items," Kleman said. 

WalMart got the lowest rating for customer service, with many readers commenting on how long it takes to check out. Target scored well for store layout but flat for quality and value. Target's website, which offers a bigger selection, did well for quality, selection and value. 

Kohl's and JCPenney scored above average for the quality of items sold. K-Mart came up short for quality, speed at checkout and value. 

Shoppers did like Costco, rating it highly for having a variety of products and good quality. Costco's website also did well thanks to how easy it is to navigate.

"It was the only chain to get an outstanding grade for the overall quality of its merchandise both in store and online," Kleman said. "And the Costco website isn't just for members. Non-members can shop there if they pay an extra 5 percent of the purchase price."

Kohl's and JC Penney checked in just behind Costco on the list for overall satisfaction. 


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  • RWS Feb 27, 2012

    Support your local job force... buy at the big box. How many employess do those little mom & pop shops employ? And do think they pay them good benefits?

  • edith wharton Feb 27, 2012

    My family tries to buy locally as much as possible, in order to support local merchants and the local economy. For things that are not available locally, we shop at Costco for the great prices and good quality.

  • tjdebord Feb 24, 2012

    Walmart is the pits. Recently went to Walmart, picked up 2 items, and they only had 3 cashiers open. THREE! And no self service was open. NONE! People with grocery carts full and lined up. I walked out. Will never shop there again. I'll go to Target even if I have to pay more.

  • superman Feb 24, 2012

    Love WalMart. Prices are excellent and I dont mind a little wait. If you in a big hurry and dont care about the price try buying your stuff at a MiniMart. I like saving money more than I like saving time. I have more time than I do money. The return policy for WalMart is terrific.

  • apnc2 Feb 23, 2012

    I recently shopped JCP and think the new format is great. The prices are much lower than even Target and its brand names like Izod and Docker. Very clean and easy to find stuff. I was impressed. Store hours could be better though. 10am open time is no good.