According to a recent study by the Luxury Institute, Seattle-based department store Nordstrom is the leading retailer among wealthy American shoppers. The industry research firm surveyed shoppers with household income of $150,000 per year or more for the 2012 Luxury Consumer Experience Index, Women’s Wear Daily reports, and Nordstrom came out on top in a survey that included questions about satisfaction with store personnel, in-store experience and customer satisfaction. For many of you, these findings probably don’t come as much of a surprise.

Nordstrom has long been a bastion of excellent customer service; even comedian Kathy Griffin has a routine about her mom’s fondness for returning things to the department store, which has a reputation for taking back almost anything, under almost any circumstances. Percentages of survey respondents who would both shop there again and recommend the store to family or friends were both in the mid-90s, which is literally just about as good as a store can get. So what makes Nordstrom so likable? And if you’re not a Nordstrom fanatic, where do you prefer to shop?

Personally, I’m on the Nordstrom bandwagon. I’ve rarely encountered the kind of snobbery inside of a Nordstrom store that customers routinely report finding at other places (and that I found in several New York department stores when I did a little experiment last year), and even when I’ve been at my most shabbily dressed, I can’t recall any memorable issues. The lack of a Nordstrom in New York City is one of Manhattan’s great shopping failures, and although most of the Nordstroms have handbag and accessories selections that leave me wanting, the kind of giant flagship store that the company would surely build in New York City would be a sight to behold.

Tied for the number two spot were Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys, both bastions of New York shopping (although Barneys has expanded to a few other US cities) that customers felt had the slightly chillier customer service that is so widespread in luxury retail but that also sometimes makes customers a little bit frustrated. On Bergdorf’s and Barneys’ side, though, was the rarefied feel of their in-store shopping experiences, particularly, one would assume, in their respective New York locations. Anyone who’s ever bought luxury goods knows that part of what you pay for is the experience, and in that way, an air of exclusivity definitely counts for something. It just might not count for quite as much as being able to return a defective handbag a year after the original purchase.

Image via Bloomberg

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