Consumer Reports recently conducted a survey of more than 26,000 of its readers about which are the top retail stores. Some stores were big-name disappointments while one store stood out above the rest.
"We asked readers to rate their experiences at major chains, both in-store and online," said Kim Kleman, editor-in-chief of Consumer Reports magazine. "We asked them about quality, selection, value, customer service, and how easy it was to check out."
The Consumer Reports National Research Center rated all kinds of stores, including big-box giants - such as Walmart, Target and Kmart - and department stores - like Macy's, J.C. Penney, Sears, and Kohl's. They also looked at two super-sized warehouse clubs, Costco and Sam's Club.
"The biggest complaints we got about walk-in stores were long lines, lack of sales help, and out-of-stock items," said Kleman.
Walmart got the lowest rating for customer service. And when it came to finding a bargain, Kmart, a store known for its low prices, came up short. Shoppers said they got better value at Costco and Kohl's.
Overall, Costco turned out to be the real standout.
"It was the only chain to get an outstanding grade for the overall quality for its merchandise, be it in stores or online," said Kleman.
Costco's website, Costco.com, also got kudos for value and how easy it is to navigate.
"The Costco website isn't just for members," said Kleman. "Non-members can shop there if they pay an extra 5 percent of the purchase price."
Another feature shoppers like about Costco's website is that checkout is a virtual breeze; you don't have to stand in a long line like you would at the store. The surveyed shoppers said they also really like the quality of Costco's merchandise.