Thomas Croly spent two years scouring the limited inventory at furniture stores near his home in Maui before taking his search online, where he found a leather sofa at Costco.com that matched the style he was looking for and fit his budget.
“Normally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable ordering a sofa that I haven’t sat on, but Costco’s website had a much larger selection and significantly lower prices than the brick-and-mortar stores that I looked at,” says Croly.
Croly, a CR member and longtime Costco shopper, also liked the company’s return policy. “I’ve returned a handful of products to Costco over the years, and I’ve never had any problems getting a refund,” he says. “That gave me peace of mind.”
Deciding whether to shop for furniture online or in-store has always taken some weighing of pros and cons: large selection (that you can’t see in person) vs. concerns about the return process for online shopping; smaller selection vs. more personal attention and easier returns for the in-store experience. And now, in the midst of the pandemic, you can add concerns about virus exposure to the balance, since furniture stores are enclosed spaces filled with high-touch surfaces.
Consumer Reports’ new Furniture Retailers Survey takes an in-depth look at how furniture shoppers navigate some of those pros and cons—and which retailers serve them best. Fielded in April 2020, the survey asked over 38,000 CR members who purchased furniture at an online or brick-and-mortar store within the last two years about their experiences.