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Retail satisfaction declines

News, 25 February 2016

ANN ARBOR, MI: Shopper satisfaction with the retail sector has declined for a second successive year, according to the latest data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The analysis revealed that overall satisfaction ratings with the industry, expressed using a 100-point scale, dipped by 2.6 points in the final quarter of 2015 when compared with 12 months earlier.

More specifically, figures fell in five of the ACSI's six categories, with health and personal care (–5.2 points to 73) seeing the largest contraction.

Elsewhere, supermarkets (–3.9 points to 73) matched the drop posted by department/discount stores (74). Speciality retail (–2.5 points to 77) and internet retail (–2.4 points to 80) recorded more modest decreases, as gas stations (+2.7 points to 75) bucked the trend.

Claes Fornell, the ACSI's Founder/Chairman, reported that the wider industry shift followed a two-year period when satisfaction had been "higher than the historical norm".

But the underlying causes of that prior uptick in performance, he further argued, had actually resulted from some of the negatives of the financial crisis.

"This was because it was a tough environment then to compete in. Job security for customer service personnel was hard to come by and everybody was trying harder to please customers," said Fornell.

"As both job security and employee turnover have increased, the level of customer service seems to have worsened."

Internet retail remained the highest-ranked segment overall. Within this, Amazon registered a slide from 86 to 83 points year on year, but was still the top-scoring organisation in the analysis as a whole.

Netflix also featured in the internet retail category, and logged a decline from 81 to 76 points, with eBay off from 79 to 75 points.

Elsewhere, Walmart and Target posted drops in the supermarket and department/discount ratings, while their scores stayed flat for health and personal care.

Grocery chain Wegmans and gaming specialist GameStop were two of the players that enjoyed an improvement, with both companies up by a point compared with the previous year.

Data sourced from ACSI; additional content by Warc staff