WHSmith has been voted as the worst shop on the high street in a Which? annual survey.
The chain was criticised for poor value for money, poor in-store experience and service, and for its stores being “cramped and messy”.
Its customer score of 50% put it below Homebase on 53% and Sports Direct on 54%.
But WHSmith dismissed the results as “neither statistically relevant nor meaningful relative to our loyal customer base”.
The retailer said: “Every week we serve three million customers in our 600 UK high street stores and have maintained our presence on the high street where many other retailers are closing stores.
“We work hard to improve customer experiences and continue to invest in new and existing stores.”
Criticism of Homebase included the stores being difficult to navigate, that it was “hard to find anything in overcrowded shelves” and “difficult to find staff for guidance”.
The best retailer was judged by readers as being Richer Sounds with a customer score of 89%, just ahead of outdoor and travel equipment chain Rohan (87%) and John Lewis (86%).
Richer Sounds was praised for its in-store experience, with service such as having purchases carried to their cars, or the retailer paying for customer parking.
Which? magazine editor Harry Rose said: “Worries about the future of the high street aren’t going away anytime soon, but it’s clear that there is still demand from shoppers for the experience and services offered by physical stores that can’t always be replicated online.
“Giving shoppers a great in-store experience is more important than ever if brands want to thrive on the high street.
“Our findings go to show that, if retailers can deliver great value, quality products and first-class customer service, customers will keep coming back.”
The top-rated shops according to the Which? survey are:
1. Richer Sounds (89%)
2. Rohan (87%)
3. John Lewis (86%)
4. Hotter Shoes, Lakeland, Toolstation (84%)
7. Apple, Bodycare, Crew (83%)
10. Screwfix, Seasalt, Waterstones (82%)
The bottom-rated shops are:
101. Clinton Cards (61%)
102. Peacocks, House of Fraser (59%)
104. New Look (58%)
105. River Island, JD Sports (56%)
107. Sports Direct (54%)
108. Homebase (53%)
109. WHSmith (50%)