This Retail Superstore Is Darn-Near Perfect


The new Consumer Reports survey of America's top appliance retailers is out, and the winner this time around is immediately clear: Abt.

Note to stock investors: Not "ABT," as in Abbot Labs, but "Abt" as in Abt Electronics, the Chicago-based superstore founded by Jewel and David Abt back in 1936.

Last year, Consumer Reports polled 22,888 of its subscribers on their impressions across 30,243 appliance purchases. In the just-released July issue of CR, the results came out, scoring nine of America's biggest retailers by sales (including one "retailer" that's actually an aggregation of small, independent stores) across eight separate categories. In reverse order of quality, the contestants in the "major appliances" category were:

  • P.C. Richard & Sons

  • Best Buy

  • Sears

  • hhgregg

  • Home Depot

  • Lowe's

  • Pacific Sales

  • The aforementioned "independents"...

  • Abt

Out of the nine, no single retailer won CR's coveted "red circle with a dot in the middle" in all eight categories. But Abt came darn near close to hitting that bull's-eye. In nearly every category -- haul-away services, installation, shipping, selection, product quality, service, and ease of checkout -- Abt hit the mark with perfect scores.

Can't please all the people all the time
The one category where Abt missed getting a perfect score was "price." That said, Abt's performance in this category wasn't too shabby. It scored a CR red half-circle, and was one of only three retailers (hhgregg and Best Buy being the two others) to do so. No one earned a perfect score in this category -- which just goes to show that the grass is always greener, and customers are always sure there must be a better price out there... somewhere.

But you can do better
What's perhaps most interesting about Abt is that while matching hhgregg and Best Buy -- and beating everybody else -- on price, the Chicago retailer didn't have to cut corners in the other categories. Abt maintained a robust product selection that neither hhgregg nor Best Buy could match. It offered better service than Lowe's or Home Depot, and checkouts were easier than at Sears.

All in all, it was a sterling performance for Abt. It shows that even in a world where has been beating all the big-box chain retailers at their own game, and eating their lunch, Abt, and its single massive location in Chicago (and powerful Internet sales site) can still play with the big boys.

And not incidentally, make its customers very pleased indeed.

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Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends, hhgregg, Home Depot, and Lowe's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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