America's Top Stores

There are so many different stores you can go to for one-stop shopping. Which are the best? Consumer Reports' just-released survey of more than 26,000 of its readers can help you zero in on the best stores around.

Kim Kleman of Consumer Reports says, "We asked readers to rate their experiences at major chains, both in-store and online. We asked them about quality, selection, value, customer service, and how easy it was to check out."

The Consumer Reports National Research Center rated all kinds of stores, including big-box giants-Walmart, Target, and Kmart.

Department stores-Macy's, JC Penney, Sears, and Kohls. Also two super-sized warehouse clubs-Costco and Sam's Club.

Kleman says, "The biggest complaint we got about walk-in stores were long lines, lack of sales help, and out-of-stock items."

Walmart got the lowest rating for customer service.

And when it comes to finding a bargain, Kmart-a store known for its low prices-came up short.

Shoppers said they got better value at Costco and Kohl's.

Overall, Costco turned out to be the real standout.

Kleman says, "It was the only chain to get an outstanding grade for the overall quality for its merchandise-be it in stores or online."

And Costco's website also got kudos for value and how easy it is to navigate. Another plus...

Kleman says, "The Costco website isn't just for members. Nonmembers can shop there if they pay an extra five percent of the purchase price."

And checkout is a "virtual breeze" online-unlike the lines people complained about in Costco stores.

Consumer Reports says shoppers particularly praised the quality of Costco's merchandise-everything from personal care items like cosmetics, toothpaste, and shampoo, to kitchenware, electronics, and even watches and jewelry.

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