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25 November 2020

Best and worst shops

The best and worst shops of the year, as voted for by thousands of shoppers – find out where to buy clothes, tech, DIY products and more.

Find out the best places to buy clothes, tech products, home appliances and more with the UK's biggest shopping survey. Which? reveals the best and worst retailers of 2020.

Best and worst shops revealed

The coronavirus pandemic has left many people feeling nervous about being out and about, so it's worth heading straight to the very best shops when you need to buy something - whether that's in-store or online. 

Which? has surveyed thousands of people about their experiences of shopping with some of the country's best-known stores and websites, as well as with lesser-known brands. 

In this guide, we reveal the best shops to go to for clothes, beauty products, DIY supplies, furniture, tech, home appliances and more. 

Only logged-in Which? members can view the ratings in the tables below.    

  • Not a memberJoin Which? for instant access to our retail tables as well as thousands of product reviews.

Find out how big brands such as Currys PC World, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next stack up against smaller retailers including Lakeland, Richer Sounds and Lush. You can use our results to find out everything you need to know - from the level of customer service you can expect to product quality.

The COVID-19 upheaval, combined with the growing trend for multichannel shopping (ordering online to collect in-store, for example), means we’ve changed the way we research the best shops. We used to run two separate annual surveys - one about online shopping and another about shopping on the high street - but we're replacing these with more regular, in-depth surveys focusing on buying particular product types both online and in-store. 

This page reveals the best places to buy home appliances and tech, both in-store and online. The other categories focus just on in-store shopping for now but will be updated with online shopping results as we roll out our new-style surveys over the next few months.

Best beauty, health and wellbeing shops

The best shops for buying health, beauty and wellbeing products impressed customers with the quality and range of products on offer.

The service provided by store staff, which can be vital when you're experimenting with new beauty products, wowed our respondents in some stores - while in others it was sorely lacking.

The worst-performing shop in our table scored just one star for product quality and the in-store experience, making it unlikely that customers would recommend it.

  • Find out how Boots, Superdrug, The Body Shop and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 5,055 Which? members in January 2020.

Best clothes and accessory shops

Shoppers love the five-star customer service and wide range of quality clothes and accessories at the top-rated clothes shop in our survey. 

Unfortunately the worst-rated clothes shops left customers less than impressed, scoring one star on multiple measures including customer service and the in-store experience.

  • Find out how John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Next and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 6,821 Which? members in January 2020.

Best DIY and decorating shops

We asked customers to rate the aftersales service and returns process for shops selling DIY and decorating supplies. The best two stores got five stars on this measure, meaning you can feel confident that you'll continue to get a great service even if you have to take something back. 

One shop was given five stars for the range and quality of products, as well as customer service - but the worst performer scored just one star in almost every category.   

  • Find out how B&Q, Homebase, Screwfix and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 2,826 Which? members in January 2020.

Best entertainment shops

Our entertainment category - which covers shops selling books, games and music - saw a big gap between the best and worst-performing stores.

Value for money, customer service and product quality were among the reasons customers rated the two top shops for entertainment so highly. The worst performer has stores and customer service that leave a lot to be desired.  

  • Find out how HMV, Waterstones, WHSmith and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 1,788 Which? members in January 2020.

Best furniture and homeware shops

When shopping for furniture and homeware, you want to know that you're getting decent product quality without spending the earth.

Customers told us that the store at the top of our table delivers on quality and value for money, while those in the bottom five scored two stars or less on quality.    

  • Find out how DFS, Dunelm, Ikea and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 3,309 Which? members in January 2020.

Best household appliance shops

We asked customers to tell us about their experience of the installation, removal and recycling services offered by household appliance stores and websites, as well as the aftersales service and returns. 

The top shop in our table scored five stars for product quality as well as aftersales service and returns, meaning you'll have a good all-round experience. Other shops failed to impress customers with their range of products or availability.   

  • Find out how Amazon, AO.com, Argos and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 12,419 adults, including both members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public, in August 2020.

Best outdoor and sports equipment shops

The two shops at the bottom of our table scored just one star for the in-store experience, meaning you may leave feeling more stressed than you entered. Neither impressed with the quality of products sold, or the customer service. 

The highest-scoring stores received five stars for customer service and after sales service, meaning you'll have a good experience when picking your items and if something goes wrong.     

  • Find out how Cotswold Outdoor, Halfords, Sports Direct and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 1,475 Which? members in January 2020.

Best shoe and boot shops

We all know that size matters when it comes to choosing comfortable shoes and boots, and you don't want to find the perfect size in one style only to find it doesn't fit in another. 

That's why we asked customers to rate the accuracy and consistency of sizing at shoe shops. The three stores with the lowest customer score were rated just two stars for sizing, while the stores at the top of the table got four stars on this measure.   

  • Find out how Clarks, Schuh, Skechers and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 2,031 Which? members in January 2020.

Best stationery, cards, crafts and gifting shops

The top store by customer score in this category impressed customers with five-star product quality, customer service and in-store experience.  

  • Find out how Clinton Cards, Hobbycraft, Paperchase and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 3,594 Which? members in January 2020.

Best tech shops

The top shop for tech products got an impressive customer score of 92% in our survey. Customers were impressed on every front, with nearly a clean sweep of five-star ratings. But which major tech retailers in-store and online fail to match up? 

  • Find out how Apple, Currys PC World, Richer Sounds and more scored: log in or join Which? to see the results.

Table notes: sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 12,419 adults, including both members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public, in August 2020.

What makes the best shops stand out?

The top shops in our survey generally offer something above and beyond – whether that's help with choosing products, great after sales service or returns, or simply a first-class customer experience. 

Value for money is also key, particularly for everyday essentials. Our star ratings reveal how customers rated each retailer on these measures, and others.

These results can come in particularly handy if you need to buy a type of product you don't usually shop for, and also if you're looking to try out new retailers you might not have considered before now. 

We also name Which? Recommended Providers for each category. Only those with top customer scores, plus at least four stars for customer service and three for value for money, make the grade. 

What's more, we only allow stores to become Which? Recommended Providers if they give customers at least 28 days to return non-faulty goods. We exclude any retailers that give misleading or unclear information about faulty goods returns.

Research notes

In January 2020, we surveyed 7,184 Which? members about the in-store shops they'd visited in the previous six months. 

Then in August 2020 we conducted an online survey of 12,419 adults – members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public - asking them about the tech and home appliance purchases they had made, whether online or in-store, since March 2020 when the UK went into the initial nationwide lockdown.

Customer scores are based on satisfaction with the shop on their last visit and the likelihood of recommending it.

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