Mooresville-based Lowe's, Inc. slipped a spot in the J.D. Power annual ranking of home improvement retailers.
Lowe's fell to third place, down from second last year. The retailer's score for customer satisfaction only dropped a point, to 768 out of a possible 1,000, but Menard's improved its own score and jumped ahead of Lowe's.
Ace took the No. 1 spot for the seventh year in a row, with a score of 803. The study ranks home improvement retailers based on customer surveys about customer service, store condition, price and availability.
The study highlights how important customers say good sales associates are while home improvement shopping: 80 percent said they request help finding an item in home improvement stores.
Christina Cooley, study director for J.D. Power, said Lowe's scored best with merchandise variety
and availability, and could improve its customer service.
"The area that Lowe's continues to do well in is merchandise," she said. "Where the opportunity continues to be is directly related to staff and service."
Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock said Lowe's had gone too far in cutting employee hours and inventory during the recession, after sales dipped in the first quarter. He said the retailer is adding back employee hours during busy weekday shopping times to better close sales, and deepening its inventory to makes sure key items are in stock.
Lowe's can take some solace in placing third out of six home improvement chains in the report. The company beat out True Value, Home Depot, and Sears.