Costco also proved a winner in Consumer Reports' most recent survey of shopping experiences at appliance stores. In our August 2010 report we surveyed over 21,000 Consumer Reports subscribers and found Costco was rated just behind Amazon.com as the best place to buy small appliances. (If you need some for your college-bound kids, consider these dorm-room friendly small appliances).
But having Costco on the scene could be a mixed blessing for other stores in those malls. "Their average store does over $100 million a year in sales, and there aren't many department stores that can do that, especially in this environment," Randy Brant, executive vice president at mall owner Macerich Co. (MAC), told Dow Jones. "The only downside is typically a customer making large purchases at Costco will get in their car and head home."
Our July 2010 America's top stores report found that Consumer Reports' survey respondents gave Costco high marks for quality, value, and prices across product categories. That let it finish ahead of rivals like Dillard's, Kohl's, JCPenney, Target, Sam's Club, Sears, Macy's, Meijer, Walmart and Kmart in overall satisfaction.
But all isn't perfect in Costco's merchandise aisles: Readers gave it a thumbs-down for long checkout lines. And as we found, some Kirkland brands, such as paper towels, were topped in our Ratings by other national and store brands. (See How much warehouse stores can save you and It pays to buy store brands for some more head-to-head price and quality comparisons.)