Nordstrom has been named the favorite premium fashion retailer for consumers in the U.S. for the sixth year in a row, according to Market Force Information’s annual consumer study.
Plus-size women’s clothing store Lane Bryant ranked second, earning top marks for its ability to create a look, plus the ease of finding items in store. Old Navy came in last on the list.
When conducting the study, Market Force looked at the retail attributes consumers found most important. Nordstrom earned top scores in four of the eight categories, and was the leader in store atmosphere, merchandise selection, size options and checkout speeds. The company also beat Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Dillard’s for ease of finding merchandise in the store.
The Seattle-based retailer also scored big in sales support, getting top numbers for offering customers suggestions for items that fit their needs.
But the study shows that overall, only 43 percent of customers reported getting help from a sales assistant while they were shopping, and only 38 percent received suggestions for items on items they might like.
“Retailers spend good money to market, promote and advertise their brands to lure shoppers into their door, but if their front-line representatives are failing to engage customers and deliver on the brand promise and fundamental customer service basics, they could easily lose that sale to their competitor next door,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “Our research shows that just 54 percent of shoppers felt the associate fully understood their needs, which underlines the need to consistently train and assess associates to ensure they’re executing on best practice sales processes.”
Having an online and social presence is still very important, as more consumers want online interaction with stores. The report found that 75 percent of consumers interact with their favorite fashion retailer online, a 103 percent increase over last year.
And Nordstrom is also scoring big online. Its website was the most visited in the last 90 days of the study. It did fall short, however—trailing Macy’s, Forever 21, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Banana Republic and Old Navy—for most online purchases made, and customer satisfaction with website experience.
Despite the stronghold that online shopping continues to have on retail, Market Force found brick-and-mortar stores are still a popular shopping option among consumers (76 percent had shopped at a physical retail store in the last 90 days, with 48 percent shopping at least three times and 14 percent returning at least six times).
Wearables like smartwatches, health and fitness trackers, smart eyewear and clothing and handbags that charge electronic devices have not seen much movement in sales in the past year, increasing just 1 percent from last year (up to 40 percent this year from 39 percent last year).
The athleisure market, however, showed no signs of slowing down. The sector grew in double-digits, driven mainly by the continued popularity of athletic shoes.
Nike maintained its position as the top athletic footwear brand (45 percent overall), tied at No. 1 with Foot Locker for store atmosphere, and the retailer moved ahead of the rest when it came to making the right sizes available, and catering to consumers who are looking to create an entire look.
Skechers also performed well, coming in just behind Nike as the second favorite shoe retailer with a 44 percent loyalty rating, earning the highest marks for merchandise selection and checkout speeds. DSW following as the third most favorite footwear retailer with a 40 percent score.
The study also showed that, overall, consumers are pessimistic about the economy—only 28 percent think the country will experience economic growth, while 35 percent think the economy will weaken and 37 percent sees it staying the same. Market Force suggests that consumers’ thoughts on the economy are influencing their spending habits. Just 9 percent plan to spend more this year than last, with 24 percent spending less and 67 percent spending about the same.
Market Force conducted the survey using 10,000 consumers, who were asked to rate their most recent premium fashion retailer experience, citing their likelihood to refer the retailer to other shoppers. Only retailers with 100 or more locations were included in the study.