The Nordstrom Vancouver flagship.

For the fourth consecutive year, Nordstrom Inc. was chosen by shoppers as their “favorite fashion retailer.”

The ranking was determined by a study involving more than 5,700 consumers by Market Force Information. TJX Cos. Inc.’s Marshall’s brand took the number-two spot while H&M and Ross Stores Inc.’s Ross Dress for Less tied for third place. Kohl’s Corp. came in fourth and Macy’s Inc. was fifth.

The study focused on consumers’ “fashion shopping habits, brand preferences and engagement, issue resolution and social media usage,” the researchers said. “The research highlighted opportunities for brands to deliver better experiences to consumers, with one in five indicating they were dissatisfied with their fashion retail experience.”

The study also revealed the critical role of shopper engagement by sales associates.

Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer of Market Force, said in “this research, 40 percent of consumers said the sales experience was extremely important to them, yet less than half of consumers said a sales associate engaged with them on the floor.”

The research report noted that this lack of engagement “could be hurting retailers’ chances to build satisfaction and generate sales. In fact, two-thirds of those who failed to make a purchase indicated that they were not assisted by a sales associate, demonstrating missed opportunities to drive conversion rates.”

Flink said a sales associate’s “attentiveness is a key area where brands can differentiate in this competitive space and deliver better experiences that result in higher conversion rates and basket size.”

Nordstrom ranked first in regard to overall satisfaction with sales associates as well as how well those polled were assisted by a sales associate. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ranked second in regard to overall satisfaction with sales associates.

The researchers polled consumers about “their most recent fashion retailer experience and their likelihood to refer that retailer to others.” Key metrics that help determine the overall rating included value, the in-store atmosphere, the shopper’s ability to create an outfit, speed at the checkout, the ease of finding items and sizing. “Nearly one-third of shoppers surveyed indicated that the fashion retailer they most recently visited performed poorly in all seven categories,” the researchers said.

Nordstrom’s score of 58 percent is an 8 percent drop from last year. “Meanwhile, discount chains such as Marshall’s made big gains, moving from seventh place last year to second place this year with a score of 53 percent,” the authors noted. “H&M and Ross Dress for Less also landed in the top five after not making the cut last year. Kohl’s, Macy’s, TJ Maxx and Dillard’s all dropped few a spots from the previous year’s study.”

In regard to choosing a fashion retailer, the number-one criteria was the “value provided by the money spent” at the brand. Of second importance was the in-store service while the ability to buy items online from that retail brand’s own Web site was third.

Market Force Information offers “location-level” measurement solutions for retailers and brands, which includes shopper experience surveys and mystery shopping.

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