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June 06, 2021

Consumer Reports: Wal-Mart comes up short in rankings

Being the biggest retailer on the planet doesn't necessarily mean that your customers really like you all that much, according to a poll Consumer Reports recently conducted to find what readers thought were the best stores.

Walmart finished second to last in an 11-store field, miles behind everyone’s favourite haunt, Costco, one of only a handful of retailers that has flourished despite Wal-Mart’s onslaught.

The survey asked CR readers to judge stores on service, the speed of checkout, the ease of returning items and overall value. It also asked them to consider product quality and the general attitude of staff.

Although most people thought the chain's checkout times could be improved, Costco was felt to offer the most "bang for the buck."

For all the talk about Wal-Mart’s low prices, shoppers said the prices at the 10 other retailers were at least as good.

Many readers also grumbled about Wal-Mart’s longer lines, smaller aisles and the overall quality of the merchandise. As well, roughly 44 per cent of participants reported having repeated problems with store staff.

All of which should please the legions of Wal-Mart haters out there, the most zealous of whom is likely Al Norman, a long-time critic of big-box sprawl and the dean of anti-Wal-Mart activists.

The survey results “could be construed to mean that post-bailout America is truly ‘best symbolized’ by a power-sotted corporation that exploits its workers, drains our manufacturing base, hammers our trade deficit, and floods our markets with cheap sweatshop products from China,” Norman says.

If that strikes a chord, then you just have to tune into Wal-Mart Watch’s public education campaign dedicated to challenging Wal-Mart to become a better employer, neighbour and corporate citizen. And take a look at this Wall Street Journal article on just how far Wal-Mart's competitors are willing to go to slow the advance.

What's your take on Wal-Mart? Is it just a cheap place to shop or a symbol of all that's wrong with North American retailers?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...