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Best and worst shops

The best and worst shops in the UK, as voted for by thousands of shoppers – find out where to buy clothes, tech, furniture and more.
Hannah Walsh
Ellie Simmonds
Ian Aikman
couple looking at pushchair

Find out the best places to buy beauty, clothes, furniture, DIY products and more, based on surveys of thousands of shoppers and expert Which? analysis. 

We've surveyed thousands of Which? members and members of the public about their experiences of shopping with some of the UK's best-known stores and websites, as well as with lesser-known brands.  

In this guide, we explain more about our shopping survey and reveal the best shops for baby and child, outdoor and sports equipment and stationery, cards, crafts and gifts, as well as the best online retailers for aftersales service. For more store categories, read our guides to the best technology and entertainment shops, best fashion, beauty and health shops and best home and DIY shops

Note: branded links take you to the retailers' websites. 

The best and worst shops in the UK

To help you shop smarter, we've rounded up the best shops in each category.

Already know which type of shop you want to visit? Click the links below to find out how they were rated by Which? members and members of the public. 

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 (WRP) 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 WRPs 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.

Best baby and child shops

Here, we share our ratings for dozens of shops selling baby and child products, including clothing, toys and pushchairs. 

You can use the scroll button to check the ratings each brand received across nine categories including value for money, product range and availability, product quality, staff helpfulness/knowledge and aftersales service and returns.

Online4Baby.com (81)Yes78%
Smyths Toys (171)Yes77%
Very (85)Yes77%
Next (181)Yes75%
George/Asda (260)74%
John Lewis (179)74%
Mamas & Papas (147)74%

Table notes: The table is ordered by customer score. Customer score is based on overall satisfaction with the shop and how likely people are to recommend it. Sample size in brackets. Where no star rating is given, the sample size was too small. Survey of 4,625 people (4,518 members of the UK public and 107 Which? Connect members) in May 2021.

Online4Baby.com

Web retailer Online4Baby.com topped our survey, scooping four or five stars on every measure we asked about. It was among the retailers that won Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status, alongside Very, Smyths and Next.  

Smyths Toys

Irish toy shop chain Smyths Toys has been a high street staple for more than 30 years, with over 100 bricks-and-mortar stores across the UK.  Shoppers rated it tied second place with five stars for its product range, quality and value for money. 

Very

Perhaps best known as a clothing store, online retailer Very has a wide range of baby and child products for sale, with toys, car seats and of course clothes in the mix. Its product quality, website and aftersales service earned five stars. Shoppers also gave it five stars for value for money and the amount of packaging it uses.  

Next

The fourth WRP of the bunch was clothing chain Next, which earned five stars for quality and value for money, and four stars in all other categories.

Best stationery, cards, crafts and gift shops

Use the table below to see which shops were best for buying stationery, cards, crafts and gifts. 

You can use the scroll button to check the ratings each brand received across six categories including value for money, product range, product quality and aftersales service.

John Lewis (231)Yes78%
Waterstones (191)72%
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Card Factory (336)71%
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Wilko (173)68%
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Paperchase (213)68%
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Hobbycraft (179)67%
-
The Works (189)66%
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Table notes: The table is ordered by customer score. Customer score is based on overall satisfaction with the shop and how likely people are to recommend it. Sample size in brackets. Where no star rating is given, the sample size was too small. Survey of 4,625 people (4,518 members of the UK public and 107 Which? Connect members) in May 2021.

John Lewis

High street favourite John Lewis topped the leaderboard in this category, earning itself Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status in the process.

Customers' appreciated the quality of the store's products, as well as its store quality and aftersales service - perhaps due to its famous guarantee. 

Waterstones

The nation's biggest bookstore chain impressed shoppers with its stationery and gifts section. Waterstones' strengths lie in the quality of its products and service. 

WHSmith

Train station staple WHSmith disappointed customers with its in-store experience, with one shopper describing it as 'a bit of a shambles'. Despite being known for selling stationery, it finished last in our survey of 17 stores. 

Best outdoor and sports equipment shops

If you're looking for raincoats or hiking gear, check the scores in the table below to find the best-rated place to shop. 

You can use the scroll button to check the ratings each brand received across 12 categories including value for money, product range,  product quality and aftersales service.

Rohan (105)Yes87%
Sweaty Betty (46)82%
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Cotswold Outdoors (130)79%
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Wiggle.co.uk (76)78%
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Decathlon (190)77%
ebay.co.uk (254)77%
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Nike (153)77%

Table notes: The table is ordered by customer score. Customer score is based on overall satisfaction with the shop and how likely people are to recommend it. Sample size in brackets. Where no star rating is given, the sample size was too small. Based on a survey of 10,909 members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public in November 2020.

Rohan

Rohan received five stars for staff helpfulness and product quality as well as its guarantee, meaning you are likely to be well looked after while buying, as well as if something goes wrong. It was the only sports retailer to be awarded Which? Recommended Provider status.

Sports Direct

Sports Direct got the lowest customer score and didn't achieve more than three stars for any rating. It only managed two stars for its guarantee and aftersales service.

When things go wrong: best online shops for aftersales and complaints

Online shopping doesn’t always go to plan, but a problem with an online order shouldn't have to turn into a customer service nightmare. 

We surveyed shoppers to find out how the biggest tech, lifestyle, DIY and fashion retailers fared when dealing with issues and complaints about online orders.

Screwfix.com
Marksandspencer.com
Amazon.co.uk
Next.co.uk
Johnlewis.com
Schuh.co.uk
Theworks.co.uk

Table notes: Sample sizes in brackets. Based on a survey of 5,053 members of the public in May 2021.

Screwfix and M&S scored five stars across the board, while Amazon and John Lewis scored five stars for helpfulness of customer service staff and access to customer support. 

Almost all of the top overall performers scored four stars for accessible customer care and speedy resolutions - proving that fast, no-fuss customer service is enough to keep you on board even if an online order goes wrong. 

Sports Direct, The Range and Carphone Warehouse found themselves at the bottom of the table, each scoring just one star for overall customer service.