Consumer Reports rates best box stores

February 8, 2012 3:23:55 AM PST
There are so many different stores you can go to for one-stop shopping. So which are the best? Consumer Reports conducted a survey of more than 26,000 readers, all to help you zero in on the best stores around.

Shopping these days means searching for great deals. Whether you're looking for clothes, kitchen supplies, electronics or even jewelry, Consumer Reports can tell you where to buy almost anything.

"We asked readers to rate their experiences at major chains, 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."

The Consumer Reports National Research Center rated all kinds of stores, including big-box giants - Walmart, Target, and Kmart. Department stores - Macy's, J-C Penney, Sears and Kohl's. Also two super-sized warehouse clubs - Costco and Sam's Club.

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

Walmart got the lowest rating for customer service.

And when it comes to finding a bargain, Kmart - a store known for its low prices - came up short. Shoppers said they got better value at Costco and Kohl's.

Overall, Costco turned out to be the real standout.

"It was the only chain to get an outstanding grade for the overall quality for its merchandise, be it in stores or online," Kleman said.

And Costco's website also got kudos for value and how easy it is to navigate.

"The Costco website isn't just for members," Kleman said. "Nonmembers can shop there if they pay an extra 5 percent of the purchase price."

And checkout is a virtual breeze online, unlike the lines people complained about in Costco stores.

Consumer Reports says shoppers particularly praised the quality of Costco's merchandise. Everything from personal care items like cosmetics, toothpaste and shampoo to kitchenware, electronics and even watches and jewelry.

To learn more, please visit Consumer Reports online.

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