WH Smith named worst shop for second year running

WH Smith

Cosmetics retailer Lush has been named the best high street store in Britain in an annual survey carried out by consumer rights group Which?, but WH Smith was named worst store for the second year running.

The poll of 12,504 people ranked 100 high street stores, scoring them on price, products, service and after sales/returns from their last visit. The final score is based on their overall rating for satisfaction and the likelihood of them recommending the shop to a friend.

Those surveyed put Lush in first place with a customer satisfaction score of 83%, closely followed by the Disney Store (82%), Richer Sounds (81%), John Lewis (80%) and Waterstones (80%).

Customers of Lush, famed for its handmade beauty products, praised the "personal" aspect of its attentive customer service, and described staff as "friendly" and "helpful". They also said they enjoyed their try-before-you-buy demonstration service.

WH Smith came last in the poll for the second year in a row, with shoppers complaining of "crowded stores with limited stock". One shopper described it as "a little dated and falling behind". Another said: "The shop felt very cluttered and not too well stocked."

Last year's winner Apple slipped down to 13th place, with a nine percentage point fall in its customer satisfaction score. Which? said several customers complained about it being too difficult to book an appointment with its "genius bar" service.

Which? said that, although Apple is still rated highly, shoppers merely like it this year rather than love it.

Don't settle for less

Which? editor Richard Headland, said: "We've seen time and again that people won't settle for bad customer service and this is supported by the results of our high street shops survey. Stores giving people the care and attention they want have happy customers who return."

Joining WHSmith in the bottom five high street shops are Homebase, HMV, EE (formerly Orange and T-Mobile), and 99p stores.

A WH Smith spokesperson said: "This exercise is very misleading as WH Smith does not fit into any of the survey categories, while products like newspapers and magazines are not those that customers would 'recommend' a retailer for.

"The 104 customers that commented on WH Smith in this survey are not reflective of the 12 million customers that visit our stores each week, where our own independent survey of over a thousand customers continues to rate us highly."

Clarks had one of the biggest jumps in customer score in 2014, improving from 70% in 2013 to 79% this year.

Your Comments

Good to see W H Smith burying their head in the sand. The thing I note about them is that they are expensive and have very limited stock. The practice of putting a display stand across the entrance to the book aisle is wonderful at saving me money! So thank you WHS for making my bank happy! Everytime I go in, I seem to walk out resolving not to bother again.

WHSmiths simply cannot ignore this - it's saying what most shoppers have felt for decades.
I'm still shocked how they continue trading as most things they sell are sold better and cheaper elsewhere. How do they stay in business?

This rating comes as no surprise to me - my local WH Smith is a shambles. There is no "flow" to the layout, merchandise is in no particular display sequence and its difficult to locate what you want. There is signage all over the place but again, scattered haphazardly throughout the store. Prices are uncompetitive too. I only use it as a throughway to get to other shops!