Customer satisfaction with retail is down for the first time in four years, according to a report released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). However, though brick-and-mortar satisfaction is flat or weakening, the bright spot in the fourth quarter of 2014 was internet retail, where satisfaction is up from one year ago.
Despite generally flat customer satisfaction with offline platforms, the gap between best and worst companies continues to grow. Specifically looking at department and discount stores, Nordstrom's satisfaction score went up 4 percent to a score of 86, while Walmart dropped 4 percent to 68, landing it at the bottom of the category and marking its lowest customer satisfaction rating since 2007. Other top rankers include Target, up 4 percent for a score of 80; Dillard's, with a score of 81; Kohl's, with a score of 80; and Macy's, with a score of 79.
Nordstrom's high score is no surprise—the retailer is often lauded for good customer service. Just last month, Nordstrom topped the list of consumers' favorite fashion retailers for the third year in a row, according to a study by Market Force Information. Nordstrom also tops the list for most engaged retail brand on Pinterest, according to a recent data collection on Curalate.
Nordstrom, Macy's and Target were the only stores to improve on ACSI's customer satisfaction scale. For Target, the gain represents the fruits of its efforts to save and recover face after 2013's data breach.
Customer satisfaction also dropped in the specialty retail category. Costco topped the chart with a score of 84, and L Brands came in second with a score of 83. Both retailers beat out BJ's Wholesale Club, 81; Sam's Club, 80; and Big Lots, 77.
In addition, supermarket customer satisfaction is down 2.6 percent due to rising food prices, and drugstore customer satisfaction is down 2.5 percent.
Amazon holds the top spot for customer service in the online category, with a score of 86, outpacing Newegg and Netflix, both with a score of 81. Other internet retailers, Overstock and eBay, fell below the industry average in the 2014 report, with scores of 77 and 79.
"Although there are several signs that the economy might finally take off, deteriorating customer satisfaction with retail suggests that consumer demand will not be where it needs to be," said Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder. "This is also reaffirmed by weak sales for most retailers over the holiday season. Unless consumer spending picks up dramatically, we won't see much, if any, increase in the pace of economic recovery."
-See this ACSI press release
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