In a recent ‘Which?’ survey, shoppers voted WH Smith the worst retailer (‘messy and expensive’), with TK Maxx scoring pretty low too.
I believe that over the years WH Smith has deteriorated, with some of their stores feeling less inviting and more cramped. A branch in a neighbouring town has been reduced to half its size, resulting in everything being ‘shoe-horned’ into a much smaller area. Taller shelf systems were installed, forming narrower walkways, and I now avoid going in there as it makes me feel quite claustrophobic.
Before this change I was a much more frequent visitor to the store, which was spacious and well organised. Ok, so having less floor space has obviously reduced overheads, but has possibly also meant a further reduction in customers and so profits. Of course, one of the reasons that consumers may no longer rate WHSmith is that one of the main items that it stocks, books, can be bought much more cost-effectively from the supermarket shelves.
Certain branches of Clintons card shops have had a similar ‘make under’, with some very tall shelving being installed in cramped aisles. At least they have started pricing their cards individually, meaning that you don’t have to hunt around for annoying price codes and charts any more.
Although TK Maxx does offer some good bargains, I can’t help feeling that I’m walking into a jumble sale when I enter the store. Sorting through rails of mismatched clothing very quickly becomes boring to my mind, and I soon lose all patience, give up and go somewhere that displays their clothing in a more user-friendly way.
Surprisingly to me, pound and 99p stores rated quite highly in the survey, although personally I have found many of these shops disorganised and uninviting, with the exception of a few good branches. True, prices are low, but I expect a shop to be welcoming and offer good, friendly service – I don’t want someone to just shout, “Next please,” and proceed to stuff my purchases into a bag whilst wearing a bored expression. Hold the complaints about that comment; I do speak from genuine experience.
So what makes a bad shop? Well of course there can be a lot of variation between different branches of the same store, but I believe chaotic displays, cramped environments, unhelpful staff and goods that are unrealistically priced all make a bad shop, but what do you think?
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