Special Report

This Is America's Worst Retailer

Today’s consumers have an abundance of online information available to help them make the right choices when shopping. And ratings can help not just with what to buy but also with where. One publisher of a widely-used rating index of retailers has recently updated its customer satisfaction grades for dozens of major retailers. Over the years the index was published, one store chain consistently placed at the bottom.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index surveys more than 500,000 people a year to collect data on over 400 companies in 47 industries. It describes itself as the “only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States.”

The ACSI recently issued its “Retail and Consumer Shipping Report 2020-2021.” The report looked at eight categories — department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, health and personal care stores, supermarkets, internet retailers, gas stations, consumer shipping, and the U.S. Postal Service. 24/7 Wall St. listed the retailers that received the lowest average scores across all retail categories.

Walmart, because of its size and scope, received ASCI scores in four different industries. In each category, Walmart’s customer satisfaction scores worse than the industry average, and has the third-worst average score among retailers.

The average score among the retailers in the department and discount stores category was 75. Walmart scored 71. At the top, Costco scored 81. The authors of the report wrote: “For Walmart, service quality remains a serious issue. The company rates worst in class for both staff courtesy and checkout speed by wide margins.”

Walmart also appears in the supermarket category. The average score in the segment was 76. Walmart scored 71, which put it at the bottom again. The top retailer in the category was Trader Joe’s at 84. The researchers commented:

Walmart has occupied last place every year save one—when it beat Albertsons by just a point. Consistent with its performance in other brick-and-mortar retail categories, Walmart’s service quality rates worst in class in the supermarket industry.

Walmart also appears in the internet retail category, where the average score was 78. Walmart’s score was 73, next to last, and beating the just about bankrupt Sears with its score of 72. Nordstrom topped the list at 81.

The fascinating part of the ACSI study is that Walmart continues to be America’s largest retailer by far. U.S. revenue last year was $370 billion, up 8.5% from the year earlier. And Walmart has become a huge force in e-commerce. In its earnings report, management commented: “Walmart U.S. eCommerce sales increased 69% with strong results across all channels.”

What is the takeaway from the ACSI rating figures and Walmart’s success? Apparently, poor customer service does not drive customers away.

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