What are the best (and worst) reviewed types of retail businesses?

In this 7 minute read:

  • Which types of retail businesses have the highest ratings?
  • Which types of retail businesses have the lowest ratings?
  • Average star rating of all types of retail businesses
  • The good news for local retail shops (no matter what their star rating is)

We recently published our impact of online reviews on revenue report, in which our data scientists analyzed review site and transaction data at over 200,000 small businesses across the country. As part of the full report, we analyzed online reviews and transaction data at retail shops.

As a result, we learned whether 5 star retailers earn more than 4 star retailers (they don’t), or if retail shops who reply to reviews make more than those who don’t (they do).

Now that we’ve completed our full analysis, we wanted to dive deeper into the data we used in that study to learn how local retailers experience online reviews. (Check out our article on which parts of the country are harshest and kindest in their reviews of local retail shops.)

As you know, retail is a wide-ranging industry. Retail shops include everything from clothing shops to sporting goods stores, bookstores to flower shops, shoe stores to jewelry stores, “retail” can be almost anything under the sun.

So with so much variety in the retail space, we wondered: Which types of retail shops are the best reviewed, and which were the most harshly reviewed.

Let’s find out.

Which types of retail businesses have the highest ratings?

We wanted to start by looking at the bright side. Which types of retail businesses were generally the best reviewed on all review sites? In order to get another look at which retail businesses were the best reviewed, we next looked at the percentage of businesses in our analysis that had an average star rating of 4.5 or higher:

Rank Type of retail business % rated 4.5 stars or higher
#1 Boutique shops 77.4%
#2 Arts and craft supply shops 77.3%
#3 Bike stores 76.0%
#4 Vape shops 72.7%
#4 Record/CD/DVD shops 72.7%
#6 Games and toy shops 71.5%
#7 Jewelry stores 71.4%
#8 Book stores 70.9%
#9 Office supply stores 70.7%
#10 Musical instrument stores 70.6%

Boutique shops were more consistently rated 4.5 stars or higher than any other type of retail business. But, as you can see, arts and craft supply shops were nearly just as well reviewed, with only a 10th of a percentage point separating the two.

This follows the general theme we saw across our analysis: local businesses are by and large well reviewed. Most of the businesses in our analysis were rated 4.5 stars or higher. But, I’m sure you’re all wondering, which types of retail businesses are least likely to have a high star rating?

Which types of retail businesses were least likely to be well-reviewed?

Again, most retail businesses were exceptionally well-reviewed, but here are the retail businesses at the bottom of our list of types of retail businesses with a star rating of 4.5 or higher:

Type of retail business % rated 4.5 stars or higher
Pawn shops 31.0%
Shoe stores 33.4%
Athletics and recreation supplies 42.7%
Department stores 44.0%
Mobile phone shops 45.8%

Pawn shops were the least likely to have a high star rating, as only 31% of those we analyzed had an average star rating of 4.5 or higher. Shoe stores weren’t far behind, however, as only 33.4% were rated 4.5 stars or higher.

But while this gives us an idea as to which types of retail shops were least likely to be really well reviewed, we wanted to take a deeper look at which were the most harshly reviewed. To do that, we looked at which types of retail businesses had the most locations with an average star rating of 2.9 or lower.

Type of retail business % rated 2.9 stars or lower
Vape shops 9.1%
Mobile phone shops 9.1%
Leather shops 7.2%
Computers and electronic shops 7.2%
Appliance shops 7.2%
Pool supply stores 7.1%
Pawn shops 6.9%

Vape shops and mobile phone shops were tied for the most, as 9.1% of the businesses in both categories were rated 2.9 stars or lower. Interestingly, vape shops were also one of the most well-reviewed types of retail businesses.

This suggests, perhaps, that vape shop patrons are some the most passionate customers among all types of retail businesses.

Which retail businesses have the highest (and lowest) average star rating

Now that we’ve seen which types of retail businesses are the most likely to be really well reviewed, or more poorly reviewed, let’s take one final look at how harsh or kind online reviewers are in their reviews of local retail shops. Here’s a list of the average overall star rating of all the businesses across several different retail business types:

Type of retail business Average star rating
Boutique shops 4.56
Arts and craft supply shops 4.56
Bike stores 4.55
Musical instrument stores 4.53
Office supply stores 4.51
Men’s stores 4.51
Sporting goods stores 4.49
Record, CD, and DVD shops 4.48
Games and toy shops 4.47
Jewelry stores 4.47
Antique shops 4.47
Book stores 4.46
Hobby and hardware stores 4.44
Guns and ammo shops 4.42
Gift and novelty shops 4.42
Clothing and accessory shops 4.40
Flower and gift shops 4.39
Women’s stores 4.38
Furniture and home décor shops 4.37
Drugstores and pharmacies 4.36
Tobacco and smoke shops 4.36
Cosmetics shops 4.36
Leather shops 4.35
Nurseries and gardening stores 4.34
Children and baby shops 4.32
Camera stores 4.32
Thrift stores 4.30
Electronics stores 4.30
Tailors 4.28
Vape shops 4.26
Computers and electronics shops 4.25
Appliance shops 4.25
Athletics and recreation supplies 4.18
Department stores 4.18
Pool Supply Stores 4.15
Mobile phone shops 4.06
Shoe stores 4.06
Pawn shops 4.03

The good news for local retail shops (no matter what their star rating is)

As you can see, no matter what type of retail shop you’re looking at, chances are their star rating is pretty good—if not great. But as we’ve outlined above, not all retail shops are always so lucky. Do you own a retail shop in any of the above industries? And if so, do you feel you often have to battle harsh reviews more than other types of retail shops?

If so, don’t feel overwhelmed! As we uncovered in our impact of reviews on retail revenue study, bad reviews can actually be good for business. For example: 5 star rated retail shops actually have below-average sales. The sweet spot for retail shops in our study was a star rating between 3.5 and 4.5 stars.

This might be because perfectly-rated retail businesses can seem untested or potentially “too good to be true.” This was further backed up when we saw that retail businesses whose total reviews were 25% to 35% negative earn 26% more in annual revenue than those whose were 0% to 5% negative!

The truth is, when customers actually take the time to read reviews of your business, it’s more than likely that they’re going to first seek out a negative review. They want to see if complaints about your business seem valid, and they want to see if your business cares enough about their customers to take the time to post a response.

So, if you’re a retail business in one of the more harshly-reviewed industries above, don’t fret! Keep bringing in those reviews, look at bad reviews as an opportunity to put your best foot forward by posting a thoughtful response. Check out our article on how to respond to negative reviews for more tips.

Finally, consider using a reputation management software solution to help you save time while staying even more on top of your reviews. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!


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