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America's Top Stores 2/12/12

Shopping these days means searching for great deals. Whether you're looking for clothes, kitchen supplies, electronics, or even jewelry, Consumer Reports can tell you where to buy almost anything. "We asked readers to rate their experiences at major chains, both in-store and online. We asked them about quality, selection, value, customer service, and how easy it was to check out." The Consumer Reports National Research Center rated all kinds of stores, including big-box giants - Walmart, Target, and Kmart. Department stores - Macy's, J-C Penney, Sears, and Kohl's. Also two super-sized warehouse clubs - Costco and Sam's Club. Kim Kleman, "The biggest complaints we got about walk-in stores were long lines, lack of sales help, and out-of-stock items." Walmart got the lowest rating for customer service. And when it comes to finding a bargain, Kmart -a store known for its low prices - came up short. Shoppers said they got better value at Costco and Kohl's. Overall, Costco turned out to be the real standout. Kim Kleman, "It was the only chain to get an outstanding grade for the overall quality for its merchandise - be it in stores or online." "It's got a wide variety of products." "I got my pharmacy, so I get my prescriptions." "You get everything here!" And Costco's website also got kudos for value and how easy it is to navigate. Another plus … Kim Kleman, "The Costco website isn't just for members. Nonmembers can shop there if they pay an extra five percent of the purchase price." And checkout is a "virtual breeze" online - unlike the lines people complained about in Costco stores. ."

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