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Kohl's And Target Top "Mystery Shopper" Retail Survey

Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 18, 2009 03:12 PM

You can't wholeheartedly trust the results of many consumer surveys, especially if they're about retail chains. Opinions change as quickly as prices drop, primarily because they're based on consumer reaction to specific shopping experiences.

One new survey, however, is especially interesting because it reports on the experiences of more than 3,000 mystery shoppers -- people who are paid to evaluate stores, product offerings, and customer service. Respondents ranged widely in age, from 19 to 72. Half of them had incomes over $50,000 annually, and 75 percent were women.

The respondents were asked to select their favorite retail store from among 55 leading retailers in the US. Wal-Mart actually came in first because of its low prices. But the results had to be adjusted for number of stores, since Wal-Mart has three times as many locations in North America as Kohl's and Target. The adjusted results indicate that Kohl's and Target placed first and second, respectively. JC Penney was a close third.

Target led the survey in terms of "most appreciated" characteristics. In particular, consumers liked Target's speed of service and general atmosphere. In overall value, however, Kohl's, Target, and Wal-Mart were in a three-way tie for first place.

As the new year begins for retailers, they are undoubtedly hoping for a recovery that will lead consumers back to their stores in droves. But as this survey proves, a retailer's value proposition will continue to be the major reason consumers will choose one store over another.

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