Retailers, consumers and prices
Room for home improvement retail
The 2008 study, conducted in March and April, tracked satisfaction with merchandise, price, sales staff, sales/promotions and store facility. Findings are based on responses from 9,770 consumers who bought a home improvement product or service within the past year.
Illinois-based Ace scored 791 points out of a possible 1,000 and rated high on sales staff and store facility measures.
Lowe’s came in second with a score of 784, followed by privately held Menards at 779. True Value, another cooperative, rated 774 on the satisfaction index. Home Depot, the biggest home improvement retailer, had a score of 753 and trailed Sears, which scored 767.
“Home Depot ranks lowest overall in our study primarily in its performance in the sales staff and store facility categories,” said Dale Haines, senior director of the retail and construction practice at J.D. Power.
Shareholders of Home Depot complained at last week’s annual meeting that finding goods on store shelves and workers to help customers was difficult. The company responded by saying it has stepped up store maintenance and hired electricians and other skilled staff.
As consumers pressed by higher gasoline and food prices spend less, service can be a key factor in determining where they’ll shop. “Retailers who are competing for that shrinking source of revenue can differentiate themselves by focusing on providing superior levels of customer service,” Haines said.
Meanwhile, Lowe’s told its shareholders on Friday that it was confident that it will rack up market share gains this year even as the slumping U.S. housing market continues to pressure sales.
“In a tough environment, great companies look for opportunities to strengthen their business,” Lowe’s Chairman Robert Niblock said.
(Photos: Ace Hardware and Lowe’s)