Variety retailer WHSmith has been voted the worst shop on the UK high street by consumers who dubbed it “messy” and “expensive”, data released today reveals.
According to a satisfaction survey in relation to high street shops from consumer group Which?, the retailer comes at the bottom of a list of 100 high street stores based on customer satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the store to a friend.
Telecommunications firm EE joined the retailer at the bottom of the list, while TK Maxx and Millets also propped up the rest of the top 100.
Technology giant Apple topped the list for the first time thanks to the “great atmosphere and products” in its stores and also came first in the electricals category.
Last year’s winner Lush came second in this year’s poll of 11,784 UK consumers, followed by Disney Store, Richer Sounds and Bonmarche.
Department store John Lewis fell out of the top five for the first time this year, coming in at number seven, though still topped five out of eight individual categories including Best Department Store.
As the high street continues to transform as well-known chains fall into administration, 88 per cent of respondents said they don’t like to see high street stalwarts fail while 81 per cent said they are worried about the decline of the high street.
Although 52 per cent of shoppers buy more online now than last year, high street shops continue to prove more popular than online shopping, Which? found, as consumers visit these more often than shopping sites, shopping centres and retail parks.
Commenting on the results, Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd, said: “With many high street shops struggling to keep afloat during the recession, it’s great to see so many people saying that they are still getting good service.
“Consumers want to support their local stores, but not at any price, so whether they are chains or independent we hope shops do the right thing to keep their customers and hold back the decline of the high street.”
But what can retailers do to entice customers as the high street becomes a sphere of increasing competition?
Karmesh Vaswani, VP and Head of European Retail, CPG and Logistics at Infosys, believes creating a synergy between offline and online operations is crucial to success.
“These results show just how important it is for retailers to create the right in-store environment,” Vaswani told Retail Gazette.
“After all, customers vote with their feet and with many heralding the death of the high street, no retailer can afford to lose money because customers can’t find a product or are put off by bad displays?
“However, it’s not just the responsibility of the retailer.
“The CPG companies whose products many of these retailers sell, should also be playing their part in creating fulfilling shopping experiences for consumers.
“CPG companies should be embracing mobile and analytical tools to improve aisle and shelf management capabilities. This will in turn increase basket size and display conversion rates, reduce new product introduction times and eliminate ‘out of stocks’, helping retailers build the ‘perfect store’.
Consumers might be turning to the web in search of the best deals, but this doesn’t have to mean the end of the high street.
“As long as retailers and CPG companies work together and embrace the technologies on offer, they can still win back customer’s loyalty.”