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Apple tops in retail, universal stores lead online

updated 12:20 pm EST, Tue November 3, 2009

Consumer Reports marks electronics shops

Apple leads in brick-and-mortar retail stores but is no match for more universally oriented stores online, Consumer Reports says in its December issue (subscription needed for results). Of all major physical retailers, Apple scores the highest in a reader study. Although tied with Costco for an official 90-point score, it ranks highest through its perceived product quality, customer help and the ease of the buying process.

The Mac producer's score comes despite its consciously limited product range and Apple's typical resistance to offering sales and other special deals. It also has a below-average return window of 14 days compared to 30 or longer for some locations, including Costco.

The same charts reveal that shoppers tend to prefer the experience in smaller chains like Ultimate Electronics (also 90 points), Sony (88) and Ritz Camera (88) than in large store outlets like Best Buy (82) and Fry's (81), where the scores belie an overall below average experience for quality and service.

However, Apple is knocked entirely out of the top 15 in online stores. The field here is led by Vanns and B&H, the two of which are tied for a high 95-point score. Most of those at the top are more generic electronics retailers like Amazon, Crutchfield and Newegg, all of whom were just a point off from the top. Brand-run stores from Dell and Sony still score relatively highly at 90 points each but are significantly lower.

No explanation is given for Apple's absence from the list, but its online store is more specialized for its own products where Dell often sells many products that compete with its own or are almost entirely unrelated to its core PC business, such as game consoles. Sony only sells its own brand but also designs a much wider range of products.

by MacNN Staff



  1. GreenMnM

    Joined: Dec 1969


    deja vu

    This story appears twice on the main page...

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Makes sense

    With the possible exception of the free-shipping and free ipod engraving, there is rarely a reason to buy from Oh yeah, except for the student discount if appropriate. But who cares; Apple isn't competing with Amazon for online business.

    As far as brick and morter (or glass and steel) retailing, it's hilarious that Apple and CostCo are used in the same sentence. Can you think of 2 more opposite approaches to retail? But they both work, so it's all good.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Makes sense

    Well, if you're planning on customizing your purchase, you might as well buy from the on-line store.

    If you're planning on buying off-the-shelf, you'd be better off buying on-line from Amazon. Discounts on the price and no sales tax.

    But bear in mind this survey was done before the MS store opened! Once those numbers come in, we're going to see....well....probably not much difference.

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Welcome to costco, I love you ;)

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon's sales tax

    For some reason, NY state legislators were able to persuade (strongarm? blackmail?) Amazon into withholding sales tax for orders shipping to the state, so no, for me, I don't order from Amazon anymore. MacMall is the online shop for me if I want a brand new Mac with the lowest price, free shipping, no tax and some cheap freebies.

    However, my last 6 Macs were ordered online from Apple, as they were all refurbished, and Apple's selection (and pricing) of refurbished Macs is by far the best out there (very few other outlets even have Mac refubs to begin with).

    So yes, the only reason to buy from Apple online is customisation and refurbs.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I only order from the Apple store if I can get the student discount or I am buying refurbished. Otherwise Amazon, Newegg or Smalldog are all better choices.

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