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Best shops for furniture and homeware revealed

Plus how to upgrade your home on a budget

Best shops for furniture and homeware revealed

Whether you’re looking to buy a big-ticket item such as a bed or dining table, or smaller items like cushions and cutlery, new Which? research has revealed the best shops and websites to head to – as well as the stores to avoid.

To find out which furniture shops are leaving customers satisfied and which are leaving a lot to be desired, Which? surveyed more than 11,000 people in September 2021 about their online and in-store shopping experiences buying furniture and homeware over the previous six months.

Here, we reveal the furniture shops and websites getting it right, plus expert tips for improving your home on a budget.

Which are the top furniture and homeware retailers?

The table below lists the five highest-scoring retailers in our survey.

To find out how all 50 stores – including TK Maxx, Ikea and Dunelm – scored, and to discover retailers’ star ratings for value for money, product quality, customer service and returns, among other measures, visit our guide to the best and worst homeware and furniture shops.

Best furniture and homeware stores

Ranking (out of 50) Retailer Customer score* Retailer website (links open in new tab)
1 John Lewis 85% – Which? Recommended Provider JohnLewis.com
2 Lakeland 84% – Which? Recommended Provider Lakeland.co.uk
3 QVCUK.com 83% QVCUK.com
4 The White Company/Little White Company 82% – Which? Recommended Provider TheWhiteCompany.com
5 Marks & Spencer 81% MarksAndSpencer.com

*Results based on a September 2021 survey of 11,632 people (4,161 Which? Connect panelists and 7,471 members of the UK public). *Customer score based on a combination of customer satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the retailer.

John Lewis scores highest with shoppers

John Lewis is nothing if not consistent with shoppers, according to our survey, yet again taking the prime spot in our table with a top-class customer score of 85%.

Both John Lewis and Lakeland have been named Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs) for furniture and homeware for the second year in a row. Along with The White Company, they not only wowed customers but also met the high standards our researchers look for when choosing retailers to recommend.

An impressive 95% of John Lewis shoppers were happy with the selection of products on offer, while 89% were positive about the customer service.

One customer said: ‘Staff are available when needed but do not press you into buying the most expensive product.’

However, others lamented the closure of their local branches, with store closures and job cuts making headlines this year. The retailer has countered the negative press with intriguing hints at how it plans to shake up its business model, from building rental properties that will be kitted out with John Lewis products to launching its ‘Anyday’ range, which John Lewis claims offers prices 20% lower than its other own-label lines.

The vast majority (93%) of shoppers in our survey rated John Lewis’ value for money positively, so while no one specifically mentioned buying an ‘Anyday’ product, perceptions of the retailer’s overall value for money are good.

Why Lakeland, QVC and The White Company are good bets for homeware

British kitchen and homeware retailer Lakeland dazzled shoppers, scoring 84% overall and achieving nearly a full house of five-star feedback on all measures we asked about.

This Which? Recommended Provider also achieved the highest proportion (98%) of positive ratings for aftersales service and returns of any retailer in our survey. That’s perhaps unsurprising, given its no-quibble three-year guarantee on all products.

QVCUK.com – the website for the QVC TV shopping channel – impressed shoppers with its range and availability, product quality and delivery, among other measures. In fact, it achieved five stars for all aspects of shopping we surveyed customers about, apart from those we didn’t get enough responses to calculate a rating for.

One QVC shopper who bought bedding said that they like being able to see the products on TV before buying, as they ‘get to see what they look and feel like’, adding that its ‘quality is always good’.

The retailer scored higher than any of its competitors for product quality and staff helpfulness/knowledge, which impressed 98% and 97% of shoppers respectively. One called the team ‘efficient and friendly’, praising the fact that they can ‘always speak to employees on free phone’.

QVCUK.com hasn’t been named a WRP on this occasion, however, as we didn’t receive feedback from enough shoppers on its staff’s knowledge and helpfulness. And, like fellow high-scorer Marks & Spencer, its returns and faulty goods policies don’t match the high standards our researchers require before giving the coveted WRP award.

The White Company, however, did achieve WRP status as well as top-notch feedback for its product quality, with 55% calling it excellent.

Lowest-scoring furniture and homeware stores

The table below reveals the five retailers that received the lowest customer scores in our survey. For the full survey results, visit our guide to the best and worst homeware and furniture shops.

Ranking (out of 50) Retailer Customer score* Retailer website (links open in new tab)
46 Furniture123.co.uk 66% Furniture123.co.uk
47 Loaf 64% Loaf.com
= Dwell 64% Dwell.co.uk
49 Heals 63% Heals.com
50 Sofology 60% Sofology.co.uk

*Results based on a September 2021 survey of 11,632 people (4,161 Which? Connect panelists and 7,471 members of the UK public). *Customer score based on a combination of customer satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the retailer.

Sofology, Heals and Dwell disappoint some shoppers

Sofology languished at the bottom of our table with a customer score of 60%. It didn’t manage to get more than three stars for any measures and scored just two for delivery and Covid-related measures.

One person who shopped with the sofa specialist, which sells products including coffee tables, cushions and lighting alongside its namesake item, told Which? that Sofology confirmed a delivery time for their order, but provided no updates. ‘When I contacted the firm they set a delivery date – it did not arrive,’ they said. ‘Trying to contact customer services took several days on the phone (no response to emails). When it was delivered the sofa was fine, but overall [it was] a very frustrating experience.’

Heals managed an uninspiring three stars for most measures we asked shoppers about, although it scooped five stars for the amount of packaging used. One customer told Which? they bought a ‘great quality product with good packaging’ from the retailer, but another said they were sent two defective products and that the retailer was ‘not the most straightforward to deal with’.

Dwell also got three stars for all but one aspects of the shopping experience, achieving four stars for aftersales service and returns. One shopper told us that the product range ‘lacked specialness’.

How can you improve your home on a budget?

Upgrading your home can be a pricey task, but there are plenty of things you can do to cut costs.

1. The first is shopping around. Whether you’ve got your eye on a specific item or are looking for inspiration, it’s worth exploring a range of retailers to ensure you land the best possible price.

Our best and worst furniture shops guide reveals value-for-money scores for every major furniture retailer, so you can head straight to the high-scorers without making false economies by shopping with stores that offer low prices and equally low product quality.

2. Another important step to take is reading reviews of the product you want to buy. Check both the retailer’s website and other review-based websites (including Which?) before you decide.

But do be wary of fake or incentivised reviews. Ensure you look for negative reviews rather than just reading the most recent feedback, to avoid being tricked by fake reviews.

3. Buying furniture or household items second-hand can also go a long way to saving you some cash. Visit local charity shops, local online forums/Facebook groups and Freecycle, all of which can be a good source of freebies or low-cost items for your home.

4. You could also get creative by repurposing old products you no longer need. For example, wicker baskets can be a chic way to store towels or other products. For more storage ideas, check out our best bathroom storage and furniture page.

5. You might think that a new sofa and total redecoration are the only things that can transform your sitting room, but it’s amazing how much of a difference some new cushions and accessories can make. Start small and you might be pleasantly surprised by how cheaply you can freshen up a room.

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