This Is the Least Trusted Department Store in the U.S., Data Shows

Before the world of online shopping opened our eyes to endless possibilities, department stores were the go-to place for those looking to get a wide variety of goods without having to visit multiple retailers. However, not every big-name shopping destination has a stellar reputation, according to a recent Axios Harris Poll, which Best Life used to determine the least trusted department store in the U.S.

The Axios Harris Poll 100, based on an annual survey of 42,935 Americans, ranks the biggest brands in the U.S. using a two-step process. First, the survey determined the public’s “top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter in society,” deeming them the 100 “most visible” companies. These brands were then rated by a second group of Americans using seven key dimensions of reputation—affinity, ethics, growth, products/service, citizenship, vision, and culture. The companies were scored on a 100-point scale where the lower the number meant the poorer the reputation.

From the 100 brands ranked, which included everything from media companies to wireless carriers, Best Life singled out the department store chains on the list and ranked them from highest score to lowest, AKA the best reputation to worst.

Read on to discover the least trusted department store in the U.S.

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Reputation score (out of 100): 72.8

At 72.8, Nordstrom is one of only two department stores on this list to receive an overall reputation score that is considered “good” by the poll’s standards. The store ranked 63rd among all of the 100 most visible companies of 2021, two spots higher than last year.

Nordstrom’s highest score came in the products/service category (76.1), but it struggled in the citizenship category where it received a 69.4, which is only considered to be “fair.”

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Reputation score (out of 100): 72.3

Macy’s, too, received a “good” reputation score, however the department store giant fell in the overall ranks from 58th place last year to 64th this year. Macy’s scored in the 70s across all seven categories except for growth, where it earned a “fair” rating of 68.3.



Reputation score (out of 100): 66.3

While it jumped up three spots from last year’s ranking, JCPenney’s “fair” reputation score landed it in an unimpressive 89th place out of the 100 most visible companies of 2021. The store’s worst score came in the growth category where it earned a “poor” 60.3.

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Reputation score (out of 100): 61.2

Given that it filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and the fact that the company still owes creditors more than $80 million related to that filing, it’s no surprise that Sears is the least trusted department store on the list of the 100 most visible companies.

In addition to a “poor” overall reputation score, Sears’ efforts were also considered “poor” in the affinity, products/service, citizenship, vision, and culture categories; and “very poor” in the growth category.

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