BUSINESS
11/23/2011 04:30 pm ET | Updated Dec 22, 2011

Black Friday 2011: Target Beats Walmart As America's Favorite Retailer, Survey Finds

Even with almost 200,000 petitioners rallying against its early Black Friday opening, and toy prices 4.7 percent higher than Walmart's, Target has taken the title of America's favorite discount retailer, according to a Harris Interactive poll released Wednesday.

Fifty-one percent of the 2,500 adults surveyed were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their Target visits over the past three months. Only 8 percent were unhappy, while the number of people who had bad experiences at Walmart and Kmart were triple that. Target also scored the highest of any retailer for customer value, trustworthy relationships, and shoppers being likely to return to its stores.

Considering Target's PR track record this year -- Black Friday aside, the big news has been the Missoni for Target fiasco and the company's continually crashing website -- its continued status as America's favorite discounter is surprising. It seems that even those who had their Missoni orders delayed and cancelled don't mind coming back for more.

Four percent more customers in the survey plan to shop online at Target than at Walmart, despite that company's aggressive push towards online retail and Target's notoriously erratic website.

One reason for the Target-love could be that the retailer gets more media attention (ahem) than most of its competitors -- both good and bad. For the past three years in a row, Target received the most Black Friday coverage of any store by a wide margin. According to an analysis by HighBeam, Target came in first place of any retailer (discount or otherwise) with 34 percent of media attention in the month leading up to Black Friday, with Walmart coming in second with 15 percent.

Recently, Target has gotten the most heat out of anyone for its midnight Black Friday opening -- no matter that Toys R Us and Walmart will be opening even earlier, at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. An employee petition against Target now has close to 200,000 signatures and was delivered by an employee to the Minneapolis corporate office on Monday.

On the petition's comment section, shoppers expressed frustration with Target for stooping to the level of other discount retailers like Walmart. "I thought Target had more class than this," remarked Susan Harris.

Target certainly has enough class to be able to pull off charging more for its items -- 4.7 percent more than Walmart for toys, according to a recent Bloomberg poll -- all while remaining shoppers' favorite retail experience.

The best Black Friday deals in the country:

The Best Black Friday Deals

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