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Best and worst high street shops of 2018 revealed by Which? poll

Lush, Savers and Smyths Toys top the rankings and WH Smith finishes at the bottom of the pile amid trying times for the UK retail industry

Three shops top our annual survey of the best and worst high street stores for 2018 – Lush, Savers and Smyths Toys. 

The trio, voted best by UK shoppers, have shaken up the top of our table, and none of the three made last year’s top 10.

See the top 10 table below:

 

In bottom place overall is the reliably dreadful WH Smith, which has languished in the bottom two for the past eight years. Customers derided its customer service – one labelled it a ‘horrid shop’.

See more of the bottom high street shops 10 below:

We quizzed more than 10,000 shoppers to get our survey results. The scores are based on two questions: how satisfied customers are with a shop and how likely they are to recommend it to a friend.

See the full table of 100 best and worst high street shops.

Why do the top shops do so well?

The top scorers generally offer something their online rivals can’t: sensory experiences, help with choosing products or first-class customer service.

Customers love the scents and atmosphere of Lush stores, the prices at Savers and ‘friendly and cheerful’ staff at Smyths Toys.

Price is also a key factor, particularly for everyday essentials, pushing stores such as Savers up the rankings. Customers don’t like its shops or customer service but they love its low prices – and that trumps everything else.

We saw a similar theme when Aldi topped our best and worst supermarkets survey earlier this year and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue into the future.

What is happening to the high street?

The high street has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons so far this year. In fact, two of the retailers in our survey, Toys R Us and Maplin, had already gone into administration by the time of publication.

In the past few months alone, Mothercare and Laura Ashley have issued profit warnings. New Look has requested rent cuts and Debenhams is slashing staff numbers. Carpetright is closing around a quarter of its stores, while House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer have both announced store closures too.

Consumer finances are squeezed and there’s a growing threat from online retailers, which offer convenient, fast-paced shopping options, often at lower prices.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Two thirds of us shop on our local high street at least once a fortnight. And we love being able to see and touch products before buying, taking away our purchases immediately and asking questions of staff.

Find out more about what customers love about shopping on the high street.

Which? Recommended Providers

As well as revealing the top 100 shops overall, we also break down our results into categories.

This is because a shop might be strong in one area but less impressive in another.

In each category, we reveal the shops that we’ve granted Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status. Only those with top customer scores, plus at least four stars out of five for customer service and three for price, make the grade. Qualifying stores also have to allow at least 28 days to return non-faulty goods in store for a full refund and have up-to-scratch policies on faulty goods returns.

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