The past six months have been a trying time for many retailers and satisfying customers has become a difficult feat under the circumstances.
To measure and analyze customer satisfaction the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) special COVID-19 retail study conducted interviews with 30,787 customers from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. The annual ACSI ranks the nation’s most satisfying retailers in five key retail segments: Department & Discount; Internet Retail; Specialty Retail; Supermarkets; and Health & Personal Care.
Four out of five retail industries the ACSI measures – all but Heath & Personal Care – have seen customer satisfaction wane during the pandemic, according to ACSI’s special COVID-19 retail study.
The ACSI’s proprietary scoring system ranks each retailer on a 100-point scale. Compared to ACSI’s 2019-2020 Retail Report, internet retail takes the biggest hit during the pandemic, down 4.9% to an ACSI score of 77. Yet, it remains ahead of the other retail categories. Specialty retail stores (down 2.6%) and drug stores (unchanged) tie for second at 76, while department stores (down 1.3%) and supermarkets (down 3.8%) both score 75.
“From the onset of COVID-19, consumer expectations of retailers took a massive hit,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “Customers braced for delayed packages, empty grocery store shelves, and hard-to-find name brands. Of course, just because they expected this, doesn’t mean they were thrilled about it. As customer satisfaction slips, retailers must adapt to the new market. It’s clear they have their work cut out for them.”
Here is a quick look at the top finishers in each retail segment:
Sam's Club (Walmart)
Abercrombie & Fitch
Among internet retailers, no companies improved customer satisfaction during the pandemic, as the category tumbles nearly 5% overall since the 2019-2020 Retail Report. While Costco, Etsy, and Nordstrom tie for first place with an ACSI score of 80, the first inches back 1%, while the latter two each recede 2%.
Only six specialty retail stores – Sephora, Ulta Beauty, AutoZone, Michaels, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Office Depot – are stable since the onset of COVID-19. The rest experience shrinking customer satisfaction. L Brands slips 1% to 81, yet maintains a slight lead and outpaces the competition in staff courtesy and inventory.
While no supermarkets improve their ACSI scores this time around, the top four grocers hold steady: Trader Joe’s and Wegmans tie for first place at 84, followed by Publix and Costco at 83. Customers are increasingly satisfied with Costco’s checkout speed these past six months.
Costco also takes the top mark among department and discount stores, but its lead from before the pandemic dwindles, as it falls 2% to an ACSI score of 81. Costco improves for its mobile app quality and reliability; however, satisfaction with inventory falls sharply. There’s a five-way tie for second place in the catagory at 79: Kohl’s (unchanged), Nordstrom (unchanged), Dillard’s (up 1%), Belk (up 1%), and Walmart’s Sam’s Club (down 2%). Overall, department and discount stores improve in store layout, checkout speed, name brands, store locations, and mobile app reliability. However, customers feel the industry struggles with inventory availability, sales and promotions, and store hours since COVID-19.
Customer satisfaction with health and personal care stores is steady over the last six months, as customers’ retailer of choice remains the same: “all others” or smaller drug stores. Despite slipping 1% to an ACSI score of 81, smaller drug stores lead the industry once again. CVS moves into second place, improving 1% to 78. Kroger, which slips 1% to 77, is next, followed by Walmart, up 1% to 75. Walmart’s checkout speed improves substantially, but the retailer still trails the rest of the industry for this measure. For the most part, the customer experience for drug stores remains the same. Customers do feel the checkout process (up 1% to 77) is faster and mobile app reliability (up 2% to 83) is better. However, the industry’s ability to provide name brands has lessened (down 1% to 78).
Below is a look at the 7 retailers that scored the highest overall in the rankings. Five of the 10 top finishers were from the supermarket segment and Costco made the list twice, for both the Supermarket category and Department & Discount.
ACSI Score: 84
ACSI Score: 84
ACSI Score: 83
ACSI Score: 83
ACSI Score: 82
Costco (Department & Discount)
ACSI Score: 81
ACSI Score: 81