John Lewis tops poll of consumer satisfaction

Department store chain John Lewis has been voted the UK’s favourite retailer, in a poll of more than 6000 shoppers carried out by retail analyst Verdict Research.

John Lewis regained the top spot in the nation’s affections, having been knocked into second place last year by its sister chain Waitrose, which moves down one place in 2008.

Service is at the heart of John Lewis’s popularity, according to the authors of the Consumer Satisfaction Index 2008.

‘The idea of good service at John Lewis isn’t simply a fad dreamed up by management for short-term gain, it is an integral part of the business, supported by an ownership structure which reduces staff turnover and gives partners at all levels a real incentive to perform well,’ says Neil Saunders, co-author of the report. ‘The result is an enthusiastic workforce which is knowledgeable about products.’

Intense competition and the fact that most people dislike food shopping makes it difficult for a food retailer to stand out, the report said.

But Waitrose is the exception, partly because of its ambience and layout, for which customers gave it top marks.

With retailers already reporting a tough Christmas on the high street and fears that consumers may stay away from the shops in the year ahead, building customer loyalty will be key to success in stormy economic times, the report said.

The top ten included Internet retailer Amazon, steady at number four, clothes retailer H&M, steady at number six, and Swedish furniture giant Ikea, which slipped two places to the number five position.

Specialist homewares retailer Dunelms climbed five places to third position in 2008.

DIY store Wickes and personal care firm Avon secured spots in the top ten, up 20 places to number nine, and up nine places to number eight, respectively.

US clothes retailer Gap climbed ten places to secure a place at the bottom of the top ten.

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