customer experience

Menards, Ace Hardware Most Trustworthy

How much people trust the advice they get at their hardware store turns out to be more important than almost any other factor, and that difference puts Menards at No.1 in customer satisfaction. Ace Hardware scores second place in J.D. Powers latest rankings, followed by Home Depot. Lowe’s comes in fourth, with a customer satisfaction rating slightly below average.

While the research company evaluates multiple factors, trust drives sales: People who have complete confidence in a home improvement retailer make 80% of purchases there, compared with 69% when the level of trust in the retailer is good.

“Considering that the average customer in our survey spends $1,786 a year on home improvement products, there’s a lot at stake,” says Michael Taylor, senior managing director of retail intelligence practice at J.D. Power.



Trust, it turns out, is best measured by how clean people perceive stores to be and how helpful they find the sales associates.

Other factors in the analysis include additional services, digital tools, return policies, and value given the price paid.

On a score of 1,000, Menards earned a 678, followed by Ace Hardware at 676, and Home Depot third at 665. The study average came next, at 655, with Lowe’s coming in below that, at 660.

Taylor tells Marketing Daily that Power's research often reveals brands that truly dominate their categories. “That didn’t happen in this study. Each of the four brands had real strengths and some weaknesses, so it was a mixed bag.”

Assistance means a great deal in the category. "These stores are bewildering, and there is a lot of stuff in there. It’s nice to talk to somebody who can give you confidence that you’re buying the right thing.”

And when sales associates are good with people and receptive to questions in-store, “that shows up in the data.”

The big chains have an inherent advantage in terms of selection and more developed online and tech support options. “On the other hand, smaller stores often mean you are more likely to interact with an employee and find someone who knows what they're talking about.”

The study included more than 2,100 people who have purchased home improvement-related products within the previous 12 months. The study was fielded from January 2024 to March 2024.

Taylor says perceived value also plays an important role, especially in a choppy economy for the DIY market.

Home Depot recently reported a sales decline.

And Lowe’s just announced its sales fell 4% to $21.4 billion, compared to $22.3 billion in the prior-year quarter. On a comparable basis, sales dropped 4.1%, with big-ticket items especially soft. With ongoing softness in the housing market, the Mooresville, North Carolina company affirmed its forecast for the full year, anticipating a comparable sales decline of between 2 and 3%.

Net earnings fell 22% to $1.76 billion from $2.26 billion in the prior year.

Those results were modestly ahead of Wall Street expectations but illustrate ongoing weakness in the category.

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