WHSmith is least liked brand on the high street

Mark Johnson's picture

“Cramped and messy” magazine, books and snacks retailer WHSmith has come last in the annual high street shops survey carried out by consumer group Which? 

WHSmith came in with a disappointing customer score of 50 per cent in the survey, compared with 89 per cent for the top rated store, Richer Sounds.

The home entertainment retailer claimed the top spot and has been rated the best high street shop by Which?’s panel of more than 7,700 shoppers. 

“WHSmith ranked lowest in our table”, Which? said. “The stationery specialist was described by shoppers as ‘cramped and messy’, and one said ‘stores are crowded and the staff members are very unhelpful’”.

DIY and sports shops among worst brands

DIY group, Homebase, came second-to-last place, Which? noting that the ailing DIY store had recently dropped the ‘Bunnings’ branding from its stores, “to the relief of some people in our survey”. 

‘My local Homebase is better now they have dropped the Bunnings association,’ Which? quoted one consumer as saying. 

However, even this hasn’t helped Homebase to rise up the rankings, with customers rating it poorly across the board.

Big brands JD Sports, River Island and Sports Direct also appear towards the bottom of the table. 

JD Sports and Sport Direct customers were particularly unimpressed with the store environment.

Customer service focused brands come top

Along side Richer Sounds at the top of the survey were outdoor clothing store, Rohan, and department store John Lewis, which together claimed the top three places.

    Richer culture: Entertainment group won for product, customer service and value


    Richer Sounds’ top-ranking score of 89 per cent meant it just beat outdoor clothing specialist Rohan (87 per cent) and department store John Lewis & Partners (86 per cent) to the top spot.

    The only non-specialist in the top six is all-rounder John Lewis, known for its excellent customer service and vast range of products, Which? said.

    “Our survey respondents agree. ‘It’s a reliable store with products I can trust – I know staff will sort out any problems that may arise,’ explained one.”

    “Shoppers love these top-rated shops for their high level of knowledge, expert customer service and good value for money. 

    “For in-store shoppers, a good store environment is an important element in where they choose to shop. Our best-rated shops score highly in this area.”

    Other highly ranked shops include Apple, toiletries shops Bodycare (both 83 per ent), women’s clothing store Seasalt and bookshop Waterstones (both 82 per cent).

    Britain’s most popular shops

    1. Richer Sounds (89%)
    2. Rohan (87%)
    3. John Lewis (86%)
    4. Hotter Shoes (84%)
    5. Lakeland (84%)
    6. Toolstation (84%)
    7. Apple (83%)
    8. Bodycare (83%)

    Britain’s least popular shops

    1. WHSmith (50%)
    2. Homebase/Bunnings (53%)
    3. Sports Direct (54%)
    4. JD Sports (56%)
    5. River Island (56%)
    6. New Look (58%)
    7. House of Fraser (59%)
    8. Peacocks (59%)