A discount store, a membership warehouse and a dollar store topped the list of 25 national retailers with the best customer retention during 2012.
According to Summerville-based consumer research firm America’s Research Group, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Dollar Tree were the only major retailers to retain close to 80 percent of their customer base through Dec. 23.
Wal-Mart kept 93 percent of its base, Sam’s Club 80 percent and Dollar Tree 79.7 percent.
Those at the bottom were Barnes & Noble, 47.8 percent; BJ’s, 49.5 percent, which is not in the Charleston market; The Gap, 53.1 percent; Lowe’s, 53.9 percent; and Costco, 56.2 percent.
“A well-marketed, well-merchandised retailer needs to retain 80 percent or more of its customer base,” ARG Chairman and CEO Britt Beemer said. “But only three made that list in 2012. In previous years, at least seven or more did so. If you’re losing one-third or more of your customers, you’ve got serious problems.”
The top five retailers were all discounters, closeout or dollar stores.
“This says a lot about the American consumer,” Beemer said. “Consumers were very frugal this year as we said all along. They wanted deals, and this is what happens when everyone wants a deal — record numbers of retailers were unable to keep up and they lost large numbers of customers.”
The survey also offers insight into which retailers may be in trouble with excess inventory sitting around after the holidays, Beemer said.
“Sears, at 67.4 percent, lost at least one-third of its customer base four or five years ago; and J.C Penney, at 67.1 percent, lost all of that this year,” he said. “You never want to give away one-third of customers, and most did this this year.”
This is how the rest of the top 25 fared: Big Lots scored 76.1 percent; Amazon, 75.9 percent; Target, 75.7 percent; Ross, 72 percent; Marshalls, 70.9 percent; Sears, 67.4 percent; J.C. Penney, 67.1 percent; Walgreens; 69.9 percent; Old Navy, 66 percent; Best Buy, 63.6 percent; Macy’s, 62.8 percent; TJ Maxx, 62.6 percent; Kohl’s, 62.2 percent; American Eagle, 61.5 percent; Toys R Us, 61.1 percent; Home Depot, 57.9 percent; and CVS, 57.7 percent.