Please note that everything in this article is based on my research and opinion.
I rank these national stores based on quality, value, customer service and return policy
I rank Costco as number one when it comes to quality and value. The employees at Costco who make the decisions about which products to select or accept to be sold at Costco are very selective and most of the products that are sold by Costco go through rigorous quality assurance and scrutiny. When I shop at Costco, I know that what I'm buying has a great chance of being quality and value.
Another amazing unmatched service by Costco is their return policy. Costco
stands by their products so much that they say if you don't like it, you
can return it at any time (with the exception of electronics that have 90
days return policy and expired food), that type of return policy is
unheard of by any retailer.
And also you don't need to worry about keeping your receipt, their return system is really good and computerized, so they can easily find your purchase using your membership purchase history.
I rank Trader Joe's very close to Costco when it comes to quality and value. I almost debated whether I should rank Trader Joe's above Costco. I would say both stores are equally amazing when it comes to their own specialized type products, variety, quality and return policy.
One of the major advantage of Trader Joe's over Costco is that you do not need to pay a yearly membership fee and you do not need to buy in such a high quantity, but I still ranked Costco as the number one store because of it's unmatched quality, value and return policy.
Trader Joe's has amazing - unmatched return policy behind Costco - Trader Joe's accept returns without receipt within reason.
Target is a good place to shop for everyday things that we need other than groceries. I even like Target's clothing - seems to be quality for the price. Target is the best place to buy baby and children products, toys, cleaning merchandise, kitchen stuff, sports things and snacks.
Target's return policy does not come close to Costco's return policy that allows returns anytime within reason (except electronics and expired food), but it still very good - 90 days or use Target RedCard and it is 120 days, except the electronics and expired groceries.
You can find just about anything you want from Amazon. Amazon has a very competitive price when it comes to things like electronic accessories, new laptops, computers or computer parts, games, toys and everyday things.
Amazon's return policy is only 30 days, but they seem to make exceptions depending on the situation so they tend to be flexible on that 30 days return policy.
Sprouts used to be one of the lowest priced grocery stores behind Trader Joe's; sometimes Sprouts had lower cost groceries than even Trader Joe's, but they have been increasing their prices for most of their items to a point that the value and benefit of shopping at Sprouts has slowly gone away.
But still there are going to be products that you cannot find anywhere else except a health food store such as Sprouts. But watch out for quality because Sprouts tend to have lower quality products but now with a higher prices, there is no value to buy most of your groceries from Sprouts. So if you're a savvy shopper, look for other health food stores near you for possibly finding a much more quality health products which makes it worth paying an extra percentage for extra quality.
For example, I used to buy most of my vitamins, supplements and herbs and health food items from Sprouts, but I noticed that they have increased their prices on those items drastically and there are no good promotional discounts like what they used to have, so I found a small local health food store near my home called Lazy Acres, for the most part, Lazy Acres always tend to have major promotional discounts on vitamins, supplements, herbs and natural health products so I switched to Lazy Acres for all my vitamins, probiotics, supplements and herbs, etc.. and even switched to Lazy Acres for fresh produce because they have a very good quality so it makes it worth it to pay a bit extra and get such a high quality produce.
Sprouts handling the returns are antiquated; stores like Costco, Target, and Home Depot can find your purchase history by looking up your membership or the credit card that you used to purchase the product. Trader Joe's don't even bother asking for the receipt and they are very easy-going and flexible in taking returns as long as it is within reason. But Sprouts gives you a very hard to read paper receipt which you can easily loose and once you loose your receipt, Sprouts more likely will not accept your return without the receipt.
Vons tends to have all of the grocery items that you would need and their prices are okay especially when they have sales.
But Vons tend to have higher prices and sometimes longer checkout lines
I like Vons for their longer store hours and I actually like Von's Deli.
If you have your Vons receipt, the return is straight-forward within 30 days; otherwise, if you don't have the receipt, Vons return policy varies depending on the Vons employee who is in charge of accepting your return.
Ralphs grocery stores tends to have all of the grocery items that you would need and their prices are lower than many other grocery stores except Trader Joe's and other stores specials.
Ralphs tend to have longer checkout lines.
Some Ralphs stores have longer store hours.
If you have your receipt, the return policy at Ralphs is straight-forward within 30 days; otherwise, if you don't have the receipt, The return policy varies depending on the Ralph's employee who is in charge of accepting your return.
Marshalls is a good place to shop for kitchen and bath items and accessories, with a lot of selections and good prices.
Marshalls tend to have longer checkout lines.
Marshals return policy is within 30 days with a receipt. Marshals may offer store credit if you do not have the receipt, but return of after 30 days is a risk because Marshals may only provide the store credit for the lowest cost and that can be much much lower than what you paid for the products.
You can find just about any merchandise or product that you need from Walmart, but some of Walmart's products are not as quality.
Target and Walmart prices are very close, but Walmart's prices tend to be a bit lower than Target. I like Target over Walmart because Target stores have a better feeling to them, maybe the lighting, the colors and decorations are warm and inviting, but Walmart's lighting and colors tend to be cold and warehouse like. It is also easier to find items in Target, and Target tend to have better quality products.
Walmart's return policy does not come close to Costco's return policy that allows returns anytime within reason (except electronics and expired food), but Walmart's returns are accepted with receipt within 90 days. Based on my experience, Target is a bit more flexible and easy-going than Walmart when it comes to accepting returns.
You may find good prices for clothes, shoes, and accessories at Ross, but be very careful because the reason some of the items have lower prices is because those items are maybe reject or have imperfections or even are bad quality or used. For example, I bought a pair of shoes for my six year old son for $19.95, and it ripped apart within 60 days and I just went next door to Target and bought another pair of shoes for my son for $24.95 and he has been wearing them for a year, so I learned my lesson that sometimes it is worth it to pay a bit more and get much better quality.
Another example: I bought a rug from Ross for my van, and that rug smelled so bad that after a while my van started to smell bad, so more likely the rug was used or bad quality.
When it comes to return policies, you can never compare Ross return policy
with the return policy of stores like Costco or Target.
Costco or Target can find your purchase in their computer system by looking at your membership purchase history or by the credit card you have used, but Ross will require your receipt to find your purchase.
Costco guarantees satisfaction of your purchase so they take most
merchandise back and give you 100% of your money back no matter when you
bring the product back (except Costco may not take back expired food and
Costco has 90 days return policy on electronics), but Ross, requires
receipt and merchandise tag within 30 days.
Ross may take a merchandise back and give you store credit if the merchandise has the sticker or box, but be aware, once I tried to return a scooter because it was not safe, and I bought it for my six year old son for $19.95, but the Ross store manager told me that she will take the scooter back and give me a store credit of 50¢, yes, you heard it right, I paid $19.95, but Ross was giving me a store credit of 50¢ if I return it without a receipt.