The best and worst high street retailers 2018

5th June 2018

Last week a survey by Which? magazine hit the headlines as they named the best and worst high street retailers according to shoppers. More than 10,000 people participated in the survey, answering questions regarding their experience at 100 major high street stores.

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Sad news for WHSmith

High Street stalwart WHSmith was voted the worst store of 2018, having found themselves in the bottom two for 8 years in a row. Shoppers cited poor value for money, meagre customer service and cluttered stores as the main reasons for the low score.

One customer told Which? that the stores “badly need updating” whilst another said it was “hugely inferior to what it was in the past”.

WHSmith’s poor performance comes just one a week after it faced a backlash for overcharging customers for toothpaste and other toiletries in their hospital shops.

Good news for the other Smyths

At the other end of the scale and ranking highly in the survey were cosmetics brand Lush and Smyths Toys Superstore.

Customers particularly loved the smells of Lush stores, something we acknowledge here at Barber as we integrate smell into many of our retail experience designs. And they loved the friendly, approachable customer assistants in Smyths stores.

Speaking about the results, editor of Which? – Ben Clissitt suggest that stores such as WHSmith need to pull their finger out and move with the times:

“It is clear that our traditional high street is changing and while this is bad news for some retailers who have struggled to adapt, others have seized the opportunity to make their mark.

“Our findings show that if retailers can strike the right balance between good value, quality products and first-class customer service, shoppers will keep coming back to their stores.”

Not all good news for Lush

Despite riding high last week – Lush are now facing a backlash after using politically charged window displays to highlight the undercover policing scandal. Whilst not afraid to use their platform to publicise political messages in the past, this time the retailer has provoked a lot of flack for the wording of their campaign, which has been misinterpreted as an attack on the police force as a whole.

The UK government has waded into the debate with Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeting: “Never thought I would see a mainstream British retailer running a public advertising campaign against our hardworking police.”


Do you think Lush have overstepped the mark? Do you like a store that smells good? What do you think WHSmith should do to pull their socks up – or do you like them just the way they are? Let us know in the comments below!