Independents Rank Best

Consumer Reports recently released their Ratings of Sporting-Goods Retailers based on the reviews of 26,461 readers and their 34,299 purchases. Two major chain stores stood out as where the majority, thirty-percent of all transactions took place. That is the last category any mass merchants dominated, independent merchants though proved to be where consumers enjoyed shopping the most.

Almost all of the readers expressed how happy they were to have received knowledgeable help when they shopped at a local retailer. This may be due to better training, or a more vested interest in the business by the employees. No matter the reason, local retailers appeared to have a better group of employees over the mass merchants where less than half of the shoppers reported receiving adequate help.

Local retailers were also a preferred choice for the respondents because of the wider selection of valued goods; the goods perceived to be worth their cost, a wider selection, higher quality products and again, solid service. Service seems to be a recurring theme with the respondents.

Locally owned, or independent stores did receive a few poor marks. Anyone who has traveled to different local retailers will agree with these findings. The shoppers complained that local stores were more likely to have crowded aisles, which were harder to shop in. When space is limited but selection isn’t, sometimes the aisles become too crowded. We have all been in stores where this is an issue; retailers need to remember that customers prefer to walk through aisles where they are less likely to rub against clothing or gear.

An additional complaint local retailers received was of their sometimes hard to find price tags. Consumers want to know the price of an item before they reach the cash register, and who can blame them? Prices need to be well-marked and easy to find on all merchandise. If an item or a whole product line is on sale, make sure that is marked as well.

The final complaint for local shops was their long checkout lines. This should be seen as a positive and a negative for retailers. No one wants to wait in line, especially if the fish are biting; they want to get in and out quickly. This is why some stores have an express line that limits the number of items purchased per customer. You need to do what is best for your store. If you have only one cash register, ensure everyone is trained in using it correctly and customers can be rung up quickly and accurately. The positive to this complaint is that there were so many people purchasing from the stores there was a wait. What store doesn’t want to see a line of customers giving them money?

If you are an independent local retailer, this report should make you happy and also give you insight on how to improve your store and the shopping experience for your customers. These consumers wanted what every shopper wants: to be able to move around in an uncluttered store, find the exact prices on items and be able to check out in a timely manner. Work on these things and keep the knowledgeable employees engaging customers and your store will help widen the gap between local independent stores and mass merchants.