Best of bricks and mortar
The top 10 retailers were a mixed bag, with department stores, electronic superstores and the ABC Shop all making the cut. But despite some stiff competition, 2180 survey respondents elected Bunnings as their favourite. It may have been the product range, extended trading hours, friendly service or the ample parking that won them over. Or perhaps the humble snag sanger, mentioned by many shoppers as a weekend treat.
Last year’s winners, The Good Guys, came in eighth, and last year’s third place getter, JB Hifi,, managed fourth spot this year. Survey participants noted JB’s willingness to match competitor's quotes. Harvey Norman, rated second favourite last year, dropped to ninth overall – perhaps hurt by the firestorm reaction to Gerry Harvey’s criticism of GST exemptions for online purchases.
Best of online
eBay comfortably took out the People’s Choice Best Online Retailer Award. The online auction site got 28.5% of the vote – a whopping 22.1% ahead of next place getters, Apple and Amazon. Participants praised eBay for price, product range and security. They also liked eBay's independent retailers and the variety of unusual items for sale.
Priced proved a major drawcard for online shoppers. Of the top 10 stores, many were bargain sites like Catch of the Day and Deals Direct. But service was also important, with many of our voters highlighting the first-class attention provided online. The Book Depository, one of the world’s largest online book retailers, was a firm favourite. This online retailer was also voted number one in a survey of online shopping sites CHOICE conducted two years ago.
Despite large retailers crying foul about the tax treatment of online shopping, our survey found CHOICE consumers will visit stores that don't rate well for price as long as staff are helpful, knowledgeable and plentiful. In fact, several top overall performers ranked lower on price, but these stores all rated well on most aspects of customer service.
When it comes to stores, bigger isn’t always better – especially when it comes to queuing time. Many survey respondents complained about the lack of cash registers and staff at the retailing giants. Queuing time left a lot to be desired in most departments of Big W, K Mart, Target, Woolworths and Myer. Sports retailer Athlete’s Foot scored top, with 72% of respondents rating them as very good or excellent in the queuing category.
After product range, 95% of survey respondents told us that pricing influenced where they'd shop. While there were good price performers in all sectors, survey results suggest that toiletry and cosmetic stores, and home and garden retailers, did not rate well on price. The clothing sector rated better. Many members have turned to the internet as a price equaliser. Eight of our top 10 online retailers are praised by customers as significantly cheaper than their bricks and mortar competitors.
In total, 76 % of respondents rated a pleasant in-store environment as a very important or essential factor in deciding where to shop. Loud and unpleasant music, aisles that were untidy and crowded, and poorly regulated climate control all featured as shopping turn-offs.
How we survey
12,477 CHOICE members scored their favourite retailers for 2010. Questions were asked about retailers in electrical, clothes, shoes and accessories, toiletries and cosmetics, home entertainment, home and garden, sports and leisure, toys and games, and baby and toddler sectors.
Respondents were asked to rate two of the retailers they had shopped at on a number of factors and the importance of different shopping experiences in general. All survey participants then voted for their favourite bricks and mortar and online retailers.