In a difficult year for retailers, high-quality products and five-star customer service proved the difference between the winners and losers in Which?’s survey of the best and worst shops for furniture and homeware.
With many people turning their attention to home improvements in the period between Christmas and New Year, the consumer champion surveyed thousands of members in August who had recently bought items ranging from cushions and lamps to beds and sofas.
Which?’s experts asked for their views on value for money, customer service and product quality, as well as their experience with deliveries and returns.
In a list of almost 50 shops including Argos, Ikea, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and TK Maxx, the lowest rated of all the retailers in the Which? survey was Harveys (58%), which went into administration in June and has now stopped trading.
Customers told Which? they were particularly unimpressed by Harveys’ product range/availability, its after-sales service and performance on returns. One unhappy customer said the company “Did not deliver the sofa as promised, they had very poor customer service and could not tell us if the sofa was in the warehouse or even in the country”.
Furniture store Dwell (60%) fared only slightly better in the rankings, receiving poor ratings for its product range/availability and quality of products.
One Dwell customer, who had bought bedside cabinets, said: “I didn’t receive the service I expected from Dwell, the online store wouldn’t apply a discount so I ordered over the phone, and had trouble getting a firm delivery date. The goods arrived damaged although when I eventually got to speak to someone they did give me a discount.”
DIY store Homebase (62%) came third from bottom, with product range/availability and quality both only receiving two out of five stars from customers. Staff were given three stars for their helpfulness and knowledge. One shopper told Which? “the store is quite depressing” although several noted the layout was good for maintaining social distancing.
John Lewis & Partners (84%) was the top rated retailer for homeware and furniture. The well-loved department store had customers raving about its after-sales service, product guarantees and warranties, and customer service. When explaining their experiences shoppers used words like “reliable”, “trustworthy” and “consistent”.
In second place was specialist kitchenware supplier Lakeland (83%). Shoppers gave it five stars for its range/availability, product quality, staff helpfulness, after-sales service and guarantees. One customer summed up their experience by telling Which?: “Products aren’t cheap but are always of excellent quality. Service is first class.”
Ikea (80%) came in joint third place. Best known for its flatpack furniture, shoppers gave it top marks for value for money. While the in-store shopping experience was described as a “day out” by one shopper, another complained about the “marathon trek which is difficult to shortcut” and instead opted for home delivery as a result.
Also in third place were TK Maxx and Homesense (80%). Shoppers gave the stores a full five stars for value for money. Many said they were good for store browsing, using words like “unique” and “unusual”. However not all customers were convinced as one shopper said the store could be “chaotic”.
Marks and Spencer (79%) was the joint-fifth highest rated for furniture and homeware. Shoppers gave it a full five stars for product quality and staff helpfulness as well as for its warranty or guarantees. Many shoppers used words like “convenient” or “easy” to describe their experience.
When it came to Amazon (75%), customers gave the online marketplace a full five stars for product range and ease of delivery. One shopper who had bought kitchenware praised the “tremendous range of goods and the fast and reliable delivery”. However, other customers criticised the excessive use of packaging.
Customers rated Argos (73%) highly for value for money, ease of delivery and staff knowledge. Many of those surveyed noted that the Argos website is easy to navigate, however some found that products were at times out of stock.
Overall, three in 10 shoppers told Which? that cost was the most important factor when choosing a retailer to buy their furniture and homeware from. One in five (18%) customers looked for the shop that had the best range.
Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said:
“Spending so much time at home this year has inspired many of us to upgrade our interiors – and the challenges of this year have really emphasised the differences between retailers that offer a great experience and customer service, and those that don’t.
“If you’re investing in new furniture and homeware, our research shows it’s worth looking beyond enticing deals and buying from a retailer you can rely on.”
- The results are based on an online survey of 12,419 adults – members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public – who told us about 13,430 experiences with furniture and homeware shops. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2020Customer score is based on overall satisfaction with the shop and how likely people are to recommend it.
- Please see the full list of results here: https://infogram.com/best-furniture-shops-2020-logged-in-1hmr6g7dme7xo6n?live
- Please see below a table of the top six and bottom four shops for furniture and homeware:
- The information in this press release is for editorial use by journalists and media outlets only. Any business seeking to reproduce information in this release should contact the Which? Endorsement Scheme team at email@example.com.
- Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.