America’s 10 Favorite Department and Discount Stores (Which One Is Yours?)

Your ultimate guide to the retailers that aim to please.

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Updated July 11, 2024
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American customers have spoken: These are the 10 best discount and department store chains in the country, according to data from a 2023 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report. 

Stores are rated based on order accuracy, ease of pickup process, website satisfaction, speed of checkout, and more.

We’ll examine each store in more detail to help you become a savvy shopper. The companies are ranked from least to most popular according to their scores in the ASCI survey.

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10. Dollar General

jetcityimage/Adobe parking outside dollar general store

This discount chain puts stores in small towns that big-box stores like Walmart and Target often overlook. 

According to a recent earnings call, 80% of Dollar General stores are located in rural areas, offering access to grocery items that might otherwise not be available.

Dollar General has recently begun offering fresh produce to provide additional healthy options for its consumer base.

9. Dollar Tree

wolterke/Adobe Dollar tree retail exterior and trademark logo

As of 2021, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar have merged to create combination stores with both brands. 

While Dollar Tree sold items priced at $1 and under, Family Dollar offered a wider variety of products at higher price points and could satisfy more customer needs. Due to inflation, Dollar Tree raised its price to $1.25 in 2022.

8. Dillard’s

Nicholas Eckhart/Flickr dillards store

This department store was founded by William T. Dillard in 1938. While many retail clothing store brands have struggled during and since the pandemic, Dillard’s has come out strong. 

Its stock price has even outperformed juggernauts like Amazon and Tesla over the last three years.

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7. Burlington

Kirk Fisher/Adobe burlington discount department store

Hailing back to the company’s roots as Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington partners with the national non-profit Delivering Good. In 2023, the company promised to donate one new coat to a neighbor in need for each coat purchased (up to 50,000).

The company has also had charitable partnerships with the American Red Cross, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,, and Warm Coats & Warm Hearts.

6. JCPenney

Mark Roger Bailey/Adobe JCPenney Sign on building exterior wall

This department store has been around for over a century and is the namesake of its founder, James Cash Penney. 

It was originally called “The Golden Rule,” as Penney used the concept of treating others as you want to be treated as the store’s standard for customer care.

However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2020. The staple mall store was saved by mall landlords Simon Property Group and Brooks Asset Management.

5. Big Lots

JHVEPhoto/Adobe south carolina big lots store

To offer an ever-increasing number of deep discounts to customers, Big Lots recently acquired all the inventory of Hearthsong Toys. 

This brand sells STEM toys, inflatables, playscapes, arts and crafts kits, outdoor toys, and more. Big Lots plans to sell them at a steep 50% to 70% discount.

4. TJX

Joe Hendrickson/Adobe t.j. maxx

This is the parent company of several well-known brands, including Marshall’s, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and Sierra Trading Company.

The company also has TK Maxx, the name TJ Maxx operates under in Australia, Austria, the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and Poland. The initials in the name were changed from TJ to TK to avoid confusion with a popular British discount store chain, T.J. Hughes.

3. Belk

John Mantell Photo/Adobe belk department store

Belk began as a small discount store in North Carolina in 1888. The discount chain once dubbed itself “The Cheapest Store on Earth.”

The company has had three generations of Belk family leadership. Thomas M. (Tim) Belk, Jr., John R. (Johnny) Belk, and H.W. McKay Belk were the last of the Belk family to hold executive positions.

2. Kohl’s

Sundry Photography/Adobe kohls store

This department store has one of the most liberal return policies. Kohl’s gives you 180 days — that’s six months — to return or exchange your purchases, whether or not you have a receipt. 

Items returned without a receipt or with a gift receipt are given merchandise credit based on the lowest sales price in the last 13-week period.

Kohl’s also processes Amazon returns. Customers can bring their Amazon returns (with or without a shipping box) and ship them back through Kohl’s customer service.

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1. Macy’s

AmeriCantaro/Adobe macy's department store

This department store has been hosting the world-renowned Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City since 1924. 

The iconic, larger-than-life balloons have been a part of the festivities since 1927, when they replaced the live animals previously used. More than three million visitors and over 50 million television viewers watch Macy’s parade each year.

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Bottom line

puhhha/Adobe girls shopping

Department and discount retailers are prioritizing customer satisfaction, reflected in their improved ASCI scores for 2024.

While there's room for improvement, the overall trend bodes well for consumers looking to save money shopping.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.