March 28 2011|05.00 AM UTC

Alex Gutow

10 Top Retailers

Category: SR, SavingsTags: , , , , , ,

A few months ago, Consumer Reports, America’s trusty read-it-before-you-buy-it guide, rated the top “one-stop-shop” retailers in America. While you may not be familiar with all of the stores, these ten stores represent America’s best and brightest (albeit fluorescently-lit) retailers.


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From diapers to coffins, Costco has you covered from birth until death. Perhaps the hottest store to emerge from obscurity during the last ten years, Costco has taken America by storm, and proven that membership does indeed have benefits.

Thanks to their “Buy more, it’s cheaper” mentality, Costco offers some of the lowest prices around. The chain’s Kirkland Signature products have earned high marks, too. However, buyer beware: “low prices” are usually assessed per unit; therefore, if you don’t have a need for 16 gallons of orange juice, it may still be better to buy in small quantities, because if you’re throwing half of it, you’re overpaying.


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Although they’re more common in the southern half of the country (102 of the chain’s 296 stores are located in either Florida or Texas, as compared to only three in Illinois and zero in New York), Dillard’s is popular enough to be one of the top retailers in the US.

This one-stop-shop for apparel, cosmetics, furniture, and accessories is the southern equivalent to Kohl’s, JC Penney, or Sears. Dillard’s totally killed its competitors in the ratings – coming in second overall, and first among department stores. While Dillard’s may not be available in all areas, apparently they are worth the drive.


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Okay, so Kohl’s was just a smidge behind Dillard’s, receiving an overall rating of 81% compared to Dillards’ 82%.

While Dillard’s scored highest in the areas of service and checkout, Kohl’s consistently scored average marks across the board, which gives them room to improve to meet their “expect great things” tagline.

JC Penney

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Go ahead and ask your grandmother about a favorite childhood memory, and there’s a good chance “The arrival of the JC Penney Christmas Catalogue” will be in the top five. Unfortunately, thanks to online shopping, and a welcomed movement to conserve trees, the JC Penney catalogue doesn’t get around much these days.

Nevertheless, with its popular “white sales,” which discount clearance merchandise 40-80%, JC Penney’s still ranks for many as a Christmas miracle.


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Employing 351,000 people across 1,755 stores in 49 states (but not Vermont), Target is one of the healthiest and most prevalent retailers on this list.

In February 2011, Target reported a 10% gain in Q-4 profits, fueled by an improving credit card business and solid holiday sales. Could Target be the ultimate American economy bellwether? Target is attracting new customers with its chic addition of designer labels that boast fashionistas like Zac Posen and Anna Sui.

Despite scoring lowest on jewelry (let’s face it, if you’re shopping for jewelry at Target, quality isn’t your number one concern), Target has become the one-stop-shop for everything from groceries to tires, and they don’t seem to be slowing anytime soon.

Sam’s Club

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Sam’s Club was Costco before Costco was Costco. Unfortunately, it seems Costco is better at being Costco than Sam’s Club is at being Sam’s Club. Sam’s is just a little less organized, a little behind the times, and a little worse at the checkout when compared to Costco.

Of course, it is worth noting that both have amazingly low marks at the checkout process, which wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ever been there. With checkout lanes that are constantly congested, despite being wide enough for boat traffic, both retailers have some work to do to make checking out as enjoyable as shopping.


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Two words: Kenmore & Craftsman. Sears is beloved for its amazing selection of power tools and appliances. Kenmore and Craftsman are Sears’ exclusives that redefine the term “generic.”

Despite being store brands, there is nothing generic about them, as many Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools outperform their name brand counterparts. Combined with a well-run retail staff, Sears rounds out the list of the best stores for buying anything.


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Though many people won’t recognize the name Meijer, due to limited locations, others associate the name with convenience and ease of service. People love the company morale, but often report a lack of service.

For a Midwestern chain to make the top ten list, though, is quite impressive. In spite of some complaints, this chain shows no sign of falling off of the top ten list in 2012.


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No matter what your views on Walmart are, you don’t get to $405 billion in revenue without doing something right. Last November, Vanity Fair and 60 Minutes asked what company best symbolizes America today. Nearly 50% chose Walmart. Walmart is the all-American store and, with its edict of “everyday low prices,” it has thrived through the recession.

Though Consumer Reports did find that most people had a complaint or two about their Walmart experience that definitely isn’t preventing them from coming back.


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Blue light special on aisle four? Many customers respond ‘No’ to this simple question, because the ‘specials’ are no better than average prices in other stores.

However, Kmart has lived through many economic issues, and will likely continue on successfully, as they have founded a strong customer base. Shoppers can find products from Martha Stewart for their home or Sofia Vergara for their wardrobes. It’s no wonder even Donald Trump has been photographed shopping at a Kmart store.

With so many options in the United States, even making this list is remarkable. The next time you need goods, consider one of these giants and the trustworthy review of Consumer Reports.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bart April 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Costco is definitely great to shop at. They also treat their workers pretty good, for retail at least. They start people on much higher wages than the others.


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