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"Customer satisfaction with retail is down for the first time in four years," according to a report released today by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which goes on to say that "all brick-and-mortar retail categories show weakening or flat customer satisfaction for the final quarter of 2014. Only Internet retail is up from a year ago."

Highlights from the report:

• "Customer satisfaction with department and discount stores stays flat with an ACSI score of 77, while the gap between the best- and worst-ranked companies continues to grow. At the top, Nordstrom gains 4 percent to 86, while Wal-Mart drops 4 percent to 68 to the bottom of the category. With its lowest level of customer satisfaction since 2007, Wal-Mart is now well behind Target (+4% to 80), Meijer (78), and Sears (-5% to 73)."

• "Supermarket customer satisfaction is down 2.6 percent to an ACSI score of 76. Rising food prices played a major role – increasing 3.4 percent last year whereas the Consumer Price Index went up just 0.8 percent.

"Among the large supermarket chains, there is a shake-up at the top with Trader Joe’s and Wegmans both entering the ACSI at 85, tied for the lead. They supplant perennial number one Publix, which drops 5 percent to tie ACSI newcomer H-E-B at 82. While customer satisfaction with Publix is still very strong, this is the first year that the chain is not on top among supermarkets.

"Whole Foods, Target’s grocery division, and ALDI all come in at 81. Other chains above industry average are BI-LO (includes Winn-Dixie) at 79, Kroger (78), ShopRite (77) and Delhaize America (Food Lion, Hannaford) at 77. SUPERVALU (75), Safeway (75) and Albertsons (74) follow closely behind. Next are Ahold USA (Stop & Shop, Giant) and Giant Eagle (both 72). Wal-Mart’s grocery division dips to an industry-low score of 71, trailing in the battle for satisfied customers alongside its discount store general merchandise business."

• "Customer satisfaction with specialty retailers is down 1.3 percent to an ACSI score of 79. Costco leads the category with a score of 84, beating BJ’s Wholesale Club (81), Sam’s Club (80), and Big Lots (77). In its first year of ACSI coverage, L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works) comes in second with an ACSI score of 83."

• "Delivery problems caused by bad weather left many online shoppers disappointed last year, but both retailers and shippers were better prepared this time. Customer satisfaction with internet retailers rebounds 5.1 percent to an ACSI score of 82, with smaller companies and the online business of brick- and-mortar retailers responsible for much of the improvement (+8% to 81). A majority of the pure-play Internet companies actually decline. Nevertheless, Amazon remains on top (-2% to 86), easily outdistancing Newegg (-2% to 81) and Netflix (+3% to 81). This marks the third straight year of improvement for Netflix. Meanwhile, Overstock (-3%) eBay (-1%) fall below industry average to 77 and 79, respectively. "
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