Best Retail Stores

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by ConsumerAffairs

Research Team

Updated on 06/27/2017

Retail stores provide consumers with a variety of products and brands for everything from everyday items to bigger purchases like electronics and home appliances. Whether it be through a brick-and-mortar store or an ecommerce website, retailers offer convenience, selection and deals on a wide range of products.

Retailers can sell one brand, many different brands or products from multiple categories like home improvement or electronics, so it is important to look at what each store has to offer.

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    Compare Reviews for Top Retail Stores

    Read 5964 Reviews

    Founded in 1962 and headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. It has more than 11,500 stores in 28 countries and employees 2.3 million associates worldwide.

    Read 5592 Reviews

    Sears was founded over 131 years ago as a mail-ordering catalog based in the Sears Tower in Chicago. Today, it has close to 700 stores across the United States and sells clothing, home appliances, electronics and furniture.

    Office Depot
    Read 836 Reviews

    Office Depot is an office supply retailer that was founded over 30 years ago. It combined with OfficeMax in 2013 and today has close to 2,000 locations. Office Depot sells a variety of office supplies and office furniture.

    Best Buy
    Read 3579 Reviews

    Best Buy was originally founded in 1966 and is based in Richfield, Minnesota. It retails consumer electronics in over 1,500 stores as well as through its website. It employs more than 125,000 people.

    Target Stores
    Read 2472 Reviews

    Target was founded in 1962 and is the second largest discount-store retailer in the nation. Headquartered in Minneapolis, it sells a multitude of products at over 1,800 locations across North America and India.

    Read 1467 Reviews

    JCPenney was founded over 110 years ago and is an American department store chain that offers a wide variety of products. Today, it operates over 1,000 location in 49 states and Puerto Rico

    Read 1310 Reviews

    Kohl’s is an American department store chain that was founded in 1962. Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kohl’s now operates over 1,000 stores in 49 states and employs around 140,000 people.

    Read 1325 Reviews

    Macy’s got its start in 1858 selling dry goods. Today, it sells everything from clothing to furniture and other home products at over 700 locations nationwide. It is shifting its focus to expand its digital business.

    Sam's Club
    Read 730 Reviews

    As a Walmart brand, Sam’s Club was founded in 1983 and is a chain of membership-only retailers in the United States. Today, it serves over 50 million members across 656 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico.

    Read 39 Reviews

    Costco is a warehouse retailer that is only open to members. Memberships start at about $60. It carries groceries, electronics, tires, home goods and much more. Some locations also have pharmacies and optometrists.

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    Research Team

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    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

    What features matter most in a retail store?

    What kind of selection do retail stores offer?

    Variety in brands, products and departments are important, especially in a department store. Many consumers use department stores as a one-stop-shop to purchase things like groceries, clothes and home decor items. For name-brand retailers, it is important to have a wide variety of all products manufactured by that brand.

    • Brands: To attract consumers, department stores must offer a broad variety of brands. Many people are loyal to specific brands or just want to see the best deal available for certain products.
    • Departments: Having multiple departments selling different categories of products increases the likelihood of consumers shopping exclusively at one store. Department stores with grocery, electronics, apparel and auto departments can cater to multiple consumer needs in one store.
    • Name-brand retailers: Specific brand retailers should offer consumers a full selection of the products they manufacture.

    What online shopping features should retailers offer?

    Most retailers offer online shopping in addition to their brick-and-mortar locations, or they’re making the switch to be a full-time ecommerce business. Online shopping is a convenient way to shop without having to go anywhere and often results in big savings through online promotions.

    • Mobile website option: If a retailer offers online shopping they should have a website that is optimized for viewing on mobile devices. In many cases, a retailer has a mobile application designed exclusively for online shopping with their company.
    • Competitive shipping prices: The cost of shipping is important to monitor, especially on bigger items. Shipping can sometimes determine if it is worth ordering a product online or purchasing it in a store. Free shipping is a common feature to look for when you are shopping online.
    • Security: Anytime a website asks for personal information, make sure that site is secured by looking for the “https” in the URL prefix on a website (the “s” stands for secure).
    • Product description/reviews: Since online shoppers can’t physically touch or try on items, it is important for companies to include detailed descriptions and reviews for products on their website.

    What kind of promotions do retail stores offer?

    Whether shopping online or in a store, promotions are a great way to get consumers to go shopping. Retailers are constantly offering deals, sales and promotions online and in-store. Many stores have newsletters people can subscribe to that contain promotions and weekly sales.

    • Seasonal: Department stores and apparel retailers typically offer seasonal promotions each time the season changes. Winter clothes, for example, will go on sale starting in late winter or early spring to make room for spring and summer apparel.
    • Clearance: Clearance sales consist of outdated products or items that will be slightly altered with a new upcoming model. Consumers typically find items in a clearance sale that are marked very low and are only a year old.
    • Specialty sales: Specialty sales can be found in all types of retail stores and include things like back-to-school sales, holiday sales or sales at the beginning of each sports season.

    What customer service options do retailers offer?

    A customer service department that values each customer and maintains satisfaction levels will go a long way in customer retention. In today’s retail world, customer service techniques have adapted to be used in-store and online for ecommerce retailers. Features like simple returns and live-chat make sure a customer is satisfied throughout their entire experience.

    • Returns: Having a hassle-free return experience is key for customer service departments. Whether it be in-store or online, a simple return policy can make a big difference in customer retention. Most companies only require proof of purchase and a valid reason for returns.
    • Live-chat: Live-chat is a fairly new customer service feature for ecommerce websites. Live-chat software lets customer service agents interact with website visitors while they shop online. They can answer any questions or address any issues that come up in real time.
    • Expediency: The faster the service, the happier the customer will be. Customer service agents should be efficient without trying to brush off customer problems.

    What are the different types of retail stores?

    Department stores

    Department stores offer a wide range of products located in different departments of the store. They carry everything from groceries and home decor, to electronics and vehicle supplies in the same store.

    Name-brand stores

    Name-brand stores are companies that only sell the brand they design, manufacture and market. Examples of name brand stores are Nike, Adidas, Abercrombie and Fitch and Gap, Inc.

    Home Improvement stores

    Home improvement retailers provide homeowners with home improvement products, equipment and appliances. They are a popular place to go to for lawn and garden equipment, electrical and plumbing supplies, interior fixtures and, in some cases, lumber.

    Jewelry stores

    Jewelry stores carry high-end luxury jewelry or more affordable jewelry, depending on the brand. They focus on products such as necklaces, watches, bracelets and rings that contain gold, silver or precious stones like diamonds.

    Sporting goods stores

    Sporting goods stores sell apparel and equipment for all sports and outdoor activities. Consumers can find items like jerseys, balls, helmets and sports equipment, as well as hunting, fishing, camping and backpacking equipment.

    Electronics stores

    Electronic store retailers carry electronics for homes, businesses and automobiles. Their products include brand-name TVs, cameras, computers, speakers and home-theater systems.

    Who shops at retail stores?


    Retailers provide families with a one-stop shopping experience or a focused shopping experience for everything from clothing and footwear to grocery items and home decor.


    New and seasoned homeowners can visit stores that specifically cater to selling items you need in and around the house like home appliances, decor, lawn equipment and accessories.

    Gift shoppers

    Consumers looking for a specific gift can take advantage of specialized retailers like sporting goods-, jewelry- and electronics-specific stores.

    Outdoor enthusiasts

    People who hunt, fish, camp, backpack or bike can shop for equipment, apparel and replacement parts at stores that cater specifically to outdoor enthusiasts.

    Sports/exercise enthusiasts

    Consumers who play or coach sports can shop at stores that focus on sports apparel and equipment for things like jerseys, balls, helmets and other protective gear. Likewise, exercise enthusiasts can shop for comfortable apparel, exercise machines and equipment.

    Compare Reviews for Top Retail Stores

    Dollar General
    Read 697 Reviews

    Founded over 78 years ago and based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General is an American variety store chain the operates nearly 12,500 locations throughout the United States.

    Read 393 Reviews

    Menards is a chain of home improvement stores in the Midwestern United States that was founded in 1960. Today, it is based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and operates over 300 locations, employing more than 45,000 people.

    Goodwill Store
    Read 619 Reviews

    Bath & Body Works
    Read 329 Reviews

    Bath & Body Works was founded in 1990, specializing in shower gels, fragrances, candles and lotions. Today, it operates under the L Brands family and sells its products at over 1,600 stores.

    Louis Vuitton
    Read 242 Reviews

    Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854 in Paris, France, where its headquarters remains. It makes luxury products such as purses, watches and shoes. It operates in 50 countries with over 460 stores worldwide.

    TJ Maxx
    Read 292 Reviews

    TJ Maxx is a clothing department store chain founded over 40 years ago. Based in Framingham, Massachusetts, it operates stores in over 1,000 locations across the United States selling clothing, furniture and domestics.

    Bed Bath & Beyond
    Read 269 Reviews

    Founded in 1971 and headquartered in Union, New Jersey, Bed Bath and Beyond is a chain of domestic merchandise stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. It sells home products at over 1,500 locations.

    Dollar Tree
    Read 312 Reviews

    Dollar Tree is a discount variety store that began in 1991 in Norfolk, Virginia based on the price-point of one dollar. Today, it has over 13,000 locations in the United States and Canada, and employs around 145,000 people.

    Saks Fifth Avenue
    Read 278 Reviews

    Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury department store owned by Hudson’s Bay Company. It is headquartered in New York City and operates 39 stores across 22 states.

    Victoria's Secret
    Read 569 Reviews

    Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. It designs, manufactures and markets premium lingerie, women’s clothing and beauty products and operates over 1,000 locations worldwide.

    Fry's Electronics
    Read 234 Reviews

    Founded in 1985 in Sunnyvale, California, Fry’s is an electronics retail chain that supplies people with hi-tech products for their personal computers, retailing over 50,000 electronic items within each store.

    Read 306 Reviews

    With over 6,000 stores in the United States and across 17 countries, Gamestop is the world’s largest video game retailer. It offers consumers new gaming products and value-added, pre-owned gaming products.

    BJ's Wholesale Club
    Read 239 Reviews

    BJ’s is a membership-based warehouse club chain that operates stores in states along the Atlantic coast. It got its start in 1984 and today has over 200 stores and employs 25,000 people.

    Barnes & Noble
    Read 567 Reviews

    Barnes and Noble opened its first bookstore in 1886 in New York City. Today, it stands as the last remaining bookstore chain in the United States with over 600 locations, employing more than 25,000 people.

    Forever 21
    Read 639 Reviews

    Founded in 1984 and based in Los Angeles, Forever 21 is a family owned American specialty retailer. It operates over 700 stores and employs more than 30,000 people nationwide.

    Read 654 Reviews

    The first Staples store opened in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1986. Today, Staples is still based in Massachusetts and sells office supplies at more than 3,000 locations in over 26 countries.

    Family Dollar
    Read 464 Reviews

    Family Dollar is an American chain of variety stores that got its start in 1959. It was sold to Dollar Tree in 2015.

    Read 984 Reviews

    Kmart got its start in 1962 and is based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The chain is part of the Sears Holdings Corporation and has over 800 stores operating in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

    Read 198 Reviews

    Foot Locker was founded in 1974 and is an American sportswear and footwear retailer based in Manhattan, New York. It has over 3,500 stores worldwide employing over 44,000 people.

    New York & Company
    Read 155 Reviews

    Founded in 1918 and based in New York City, New York & Company is a retailer of women’s professional clothing and accessories. It has multiple stores nationwide, as well as a prominent ecommerce website

    Read 91 Reviews

    Belk is a private department store company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is known for its southern, modern style in apparel, shoes and accessories. It has over 290 stores located in 16 southern states

    Cabela's World's Foremost Outfitter
    Read 89 Reviews

    Cabela’s was founded in 1961 and is known for selling hunting, fishing and outdoor gear. Based in Sidney, Nebraska, it now operates over 80 locations in the United States and Canada and employs over 19,000 people.

    American Eagle Outfitters
    Read 159 Reviews

    American Eagle is an American-based clothing and accessory retailer headquartered in Pittsburgh. Founded in 1977, it now operates over 900 locations and owns multiple subsidiaries.

    Hobby Lobby
    Read 61 Reviews

    Hobby Lobby is an American chain of retail arts and crafts stores based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was founded over 44 years ago and now operates more than 600 stores across the United States.

    Guitar Center
    Read 119 Reviews

    Guitar Center was founded over 58 years ago and is headquartered in Westlake Village, California. It sells musical instruments, recording equipment and music accessories at over 250 locations throughout the United States

    Brandsmart USA
    Read 245 Reviews

    BrandsMart USA was founded in 1977 and is a consumer electronics and appliance retailer in the Southeastern United States. Consumers can choose from over 500 brand names and nearly 50,000 items in each of its nine locations.

    Read 150 Reviews

    Gap is headquartered in San Francisco and opened its first store in 1969. Today, it sells clothing through four subsidiaries in over 5,000 locations across the globe, employing more than 130,000 people.

    Big Lots
    Read 223 Reviews

    Big Lots was founded over 50 years ago and is based in Columbus, Ohio. Its stores sell off- and name-brand foods, home furnishings and furniture. Today, it employs over 35,000 people who operate over 1,400 stores in 47 states.

    Men's Wearhouse
    Read 119 Reviews

    Founded in 1973 and based in Houston, Men’s Wearhouse is the parent company for many men’s clothing brands such as JoS. A. Bank and Moores. Together, with all of its brands, it has over 1,000 stores nationwide.

    Old Navy
    Read 210 Reviews

    Old Navy is an American clothing and accessory chain owned by Gap, Inc. Headquartered in San Francisco, it got its start in 1994 and today has over 1,000 locations across the United States.

    Burlington Coat Factory
    Read 411 Reviews

    Based in Burlington, New Jersey, Burlington Coat Factory is an American discount department store that has been in business since 1972. It has over 550 locations that employ 28,000 people across the United States.

    Neiman Marcus
    Read 161 Reviews

    Founded in 1907, Neiman Marcus is an American luxury department store headquartered in Dallas, Texas. It operates 42 locations and 29 clearance centers across the United States.

    Bon-Ton Stores
    Read 95 Reviews

    Bon-Ton is a department store chain headquartered in York, Pennsylvania that sells apparel, cosmetics, home furnishings, bedding and jewelry. It operates over 250 stores across 26 states, including nine furniture galleries.

    Read 190 Reviews

    Dillard’s is an American department store based in Little Rock, Arkansas and has been in business for over 80 years. It sells clothing and home decor in over 300 stores across the Central and Southern United States.

    Finish Line
    Read 205 Reviews

    Finish Line is an athletic retailer offering brand-name footwear, apparel and accessories. The company is based in Indianapolis, Indiana, has over 700 stores in 47 states and sells its products online through their website.

    Lane Bryant
    Read 182 Reviews

    Lane Bryant was formed in 1901 as a maternity clothing store. Today, it is a subsidiary of The Limited, Inc. and focuses on designing and marketing plus-size clothing at more than 700 stores.

    Ross Dress For Less
    Read 452 Reviews

    Founded in 1950 and based in Pleasanton, California, Ross Dress For Less is an American chain of discount department stores. It operates over 1,200 locations in 33 states, Washington D.C. and Guam

    JoS. A. Bank Clothiers
    Read 142 Reviews

    Known for its low-priced men's suits, JoS. A. Bank is a retailer of men’s clothing that was established in 1905. Based in Hampstead, Maryland, it operates over 800 stores throughout the United States.

    Pier 1
    Read 160 Reviews

    Pier 1 is an American retailer that focuses on selling imported home furnishings and decor such as furniture, decorative accessories and seasonal decor. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, it operates over 1,000 stores nationwide.

    Read 119 Reviews

    Marshalls is an American and Canadian discount department store that was founded in 1956. Today, it operates over 975 stores across North America. It is the second largest home fashion and apparel retailer in the United States.

    99 Cents Only Stores
    Read 115 Reviews

    Based in Commerce, California, 99 Cents Only is a price-point chain that originally, as the name suggests, offered all products for under a dollar. Today, certain products are offered at higher price points.

    Read 136 Reviews

    Founded over 96 years ago and based in Florence, Italy, Gucci is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of upscale and luxury apparel and accessories. Today, it is a billion dollar company and operates over 550 stores worldwide

    Read 84 Reviews

    Founded in 1911, Boscov’s is family-owned department store headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania. Today, it operates over 50 stores in the Northeastern United States, selling multiple things including clothing and appliances.

    Michaels Stores, Inc
    Read 111 Reviews

    Michaels was founded over 40 years ago and is based in Irving, Texas. It is an American arts and crafts retail chain that employs more than 43,000 people and operates over 1,200 stores in the United States and Canada.

    Read 128 Reviews

    Founded in 1861 and based in New York City, Bloomingdale’s is a luxury department store owned by Macy’s, Inc. It sells high-end clothing, leather goods, furniture, houseware and more. It operates over 50 stores across the nation.

    Salvation Army Thrift Stores
    Read 92 Reviews

    The Salvation Army takes clothing, furniture, vehicles, household goods and appliance donations to form multiple thrift stores across the globe. Money generated through their thrift stores helps with community-care needs.

    Famous Footwear
    Read 61 Reviews

    Famous Footwear is a retailer of athletic and casual shoes that was founded in 1960. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, it sells hundreds of brand-name footwear at over 1,000 stores nationwide and online.

    Lands' End
    Read 49 Reviews

    Founded in 1963 and based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Lands’ End is a clothing and home furnishing retailer that operates mainly through mail-order and internets sales. It has nearly 15 onsite locations in the Midwest.

    Read 128 Reviews

    AAFES was founded in 1895 and is a retailer on United States Army and Air Force bases across the world. Headquartered in Dallas, AAFES operates 2,500 facilities, employing around 35,000 people globally.

    Ann Taylor
    Read 203 Reviews

    Ann Taylor is an American retailer of women’s clothing headquartered in New York City. Its products include styled suits, dresses, shoes and accessories. It employs over 19,000 people under five divisions, including LOFT.

    Tuesday Morning
    Read 53 Reviews

    Founded in 1975 and headquartered in Dallas, Tuesday Morning is a national chain selling domestic and international designer and name-brand closeout merchandise, from home decor to men’s and women’s fashion.

    Read 155 Reviews

    Brookstone began as a catalog company in 1965, and today is a major tech retailer with store locations nationwide. Its extensive website allows you to browse products by category including gifts, massage, audio and more.

    Abercrombie & Fitch
    Read 241 Reviews

    Abercrombie and Fitch is an American retailer known for its high-end casual wear for young consumers. The brand has been around since 1892 and today has over 1,000 locations that employ 65,000 people.

    Banana Republic
    Read 133 Reviews

    Sharper Image
    Read 401 Reviews

    Originating in 1977, Sharper Image relaunched its brand in 2010 as an online retailer of home electronics, air purifiers, massage chairs and other lifestyle products. Their website is designed to be informative and user-friendly.

    Read 58 Reviews

    Founded in 1962, Dressbarn is an American retailer of women’s clothing owned by Ascena Retail Group. It designs, manufactures and sells formal and casual clothes in over 3,900 locations across the United States.

    Electronic Express
    Read 52 Reviews

    Electronic Express is a name brand electronics retailer that has been in business since 1983. It stocks over 2,000 models of electronics for home, office and car use and sells its products online or in stores across the Southeast.

    La Curacao
    Read 56 Reviews

    Founded in 1978 and based in Los Angeles, La Curacao is a department store chain found in California, Arizona and Nevada dedicated to the Hispanic community. It employs over 2,000 people at more than 10 locations.

    Armani Exchange
    Read 37 Reviews

    Armani Exchange is a label under the fashion brand Giorgio Armani that designs, manufactures, distributes and retails luxury leather goods, shoes, jewelry, watches, cosmetics and interior decor.

    Simon Malls Gift Cards
    Read 38 Reviews

    Simon Malls Giftcards act like a credit card and can be used at any merchant that accepts Visa or American Express debit and credit cards in the United States.

    Read 427 Reviews

    Originally founded in 1921, RadioShack is a chain of American wireless and electronics stores. Today, it is owned by General Wireless and has over 1,700 locations and more than 4,000 employees throughout the United States.

    Howard's Appliance & Big Screen Superstores
    Read 17 Reviews

    Howard’s was founded in 1946 and is an independent retailer of appliances, TVs and mattresses. It has 12 locations and over 100 employees across Southern California.

    Hallmark Cards
    Read 25 Reviews

    Hallmark Cards is based in Kansas City, Missouri and is the largest greeting card manufacturer in the United States. It employs a creative staff of around 800 artists, designers and writers, making 19,000 new cards per year.

    Read 87 Reviews

    Linens ‘N Things is an online retailer of home furnishings, textiles and decorative accessories. Headquartered in Clifton, New Jersey, it closed its brick-and-mortar stores in 2008 to focus on ecommerce.

    Sears Portrait Studio
    Read 77 Reviews

    Read 766 Reviews
    Out of Business

    hhgregg is a publicly-owned retailer of consumer electronics and home appliances based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has over 220 locations across the Midwest and southern states and employs over 3,500 people.

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