February 29, 2024

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Best baby and sports shops

6 min read

This guide reveals the best shops and websites for baby equipment – from prams to car seats – as well as sporting and outdoor goods, based on recent customers’ experiences. 

The best shops not only offer competitive value for money but also expert advice and brilliant customer service. Each year we survey thousands of shoppers on the best places to buy different types of products and combine this feedback with our own expert analysis of the retailers’ terms of service to name Which? Recommended Providers for a wide range of shops.

This guide covers baby and sports stores, but on other pages we’ve also reviewed the best technology shops, best fashion, beauty and health shops  and best home and DIY shops .

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Best baby shops

Here, we share our ratings for shops selling baby products including pushchairs, car seats and baby carriers plus high chairs and nursery equipment. 

You can scroll to check the ratings each brand received across eight categories including value for money, range, product quality, staff helpfulness and aftersales service.

Note: branded links take you to the retailers’ websites.

The results are based on an online survey of 7,218 respondents. Our customer score is based on satisfaction with the brand and likelihood to recommend. The survey was conducted in May 2023. A cell with n/a means the sample size is too small to give a star rating.

Which? Recommended Providers for baby equipment

Online4baby.com

Online4baby was the joint highest-scoring baby equipment retailer with a customer score of 81%. It scored four stars in every category including value for money, product quality and staff helpfulness/knowledge, and is a Which? Recommended Provider. 

The family-run business, established in 1987, sells products from all the major brands, including Cybex, iCandy and Joie. There’s a 365-day exchange policy – useful if you’re buying before baby arrives. 

Shoppers applauded its easy-to-navigate website, great product range and the cost savings to be had. They also praised its customer services team, saying that they were knowledgeable, offering support seven days a week.

One respondent said: ‘The product was very competitively priced and arrived within 24 hours. Unfortunately the user manual was in French, but after contacting the customer service team they tracked down an English translation and emailed it to me within a couple of days, despite the intervention of a weekend and bank holiday.’

John Lewis

John Lewis is a staple on the high street, and came third in our table scoring 78%. It scored four stars for its product quality and staff helpfulness/knowledge, and three stars for its value for money. It is a Which? Recommended Provider. 

It has a 35-day return policy, and despite scrapping its famous ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price-match policy in 2022, it still offers refunds if the product you purchased from John Lewis drops in price within 35 days of purchasing.

Customers love its product quality, range and the helpfulness and knowledge of its staff. They also praised its quick delivery and easy-to-navigate website. 

One shopper said: ‘They never let you down.’ Another happy customer said: ‘It feels like a really loving experience, like they cherish you as a mother, everything is laid out beautifully and is the best quality.’

Mamas and Papas

Mamas and Papas scored 78% in our survey. It achieved four stars for its product quality and staff helpfulness/knowledge and three stars for its value for money. We’ve named it a Which? Recommended Provider. 

The UK-based nursery brand manufactures prams, pushchairs, baby products and maternity wear. It was established in Huddersfield in 1981 by David and Luisa Scacchetti, who wanted to bring Italian design to the UK buggy market. 

The company went into administration in 2019 and had to close six shops, however it still has 22 Mamas and Papas stores and several locations in Next branches.

It has a 28-day return policy and can arrange a courier to collect the item if you’re unable to return it instore.

Shoppers praised the quality and range of products which are ‘durable, safe and last a long time’. One commented: ‘You are made to feel that the shop workers have time for you and you are not a burden. The store is not too crowded and you’re able to look at items without feeling pressured.’

Joie Baby

Joie Baby scored 75% in our survey, receiving four stars in every category including value for money, product quality and staff helpfulness/knowledge. It is a Which? Recommended Provider. 

Joie is a global baby gear brand founded in 2011 and its products are designed to grow up with users from birth onwards. Its top-selling products include car seats and prams. 

It has a 30-days return policy and a return label is included with each item, with instructions for returning your product via DPD. 

Shoppers go to Joie Baby because of the quality of its products and good reputation. One respondent said: ‘It has a great reputation and I didn’t feel let down at all. The quality is sturdy, a bit higher on price, but worth every penny.’

Best outdoor and sports equipment shops

Whether you’re looking for workout clothes, a rain coat or hiking gear, check the scores in the table below to find the best-rated places to shop. 

The results are based on an online survey of 3,806 respondents. Our customer score is based on satisfaction with the brand and likelihood to recommend. The survey was conducted in May 2023. A cell with n/a means the sample size is too small to give a star rating.

Cotswold Outdoor

Cotswold Outdoor was the only outdoor and sports equipment shop to achieve four stars for staff helpfulness and knowledge in our survey, so if you’re after advice on a new pair of walking boots or the best four-person tent then it’s worth a visit. 

Shoppers love the quality of products it offers, too, rating it five stars on this measure.

Stores offer rucksack and boot fitting, and some even have uneven terrain surfaces for customers to test walking boots on. One customer said that the staff went ‘out of their way to help’.  

Cotswold Outdoor has a range of Outdoor Partners, offering discounts or in-store events – National Trust, National Trust for Scotland, and British Mountaineering Council members get 15% off in-store and online, for example. 

John Lewis

Second-placed John Lewis is another good bet for buying outdoor and sporting items. 

It does well on a range of measures including product quality, availability and range as well as aftersales service. It picks up a respectable four stars for value for money. 

What makes the best shops stand out?

The top shops in our survey generally offer something above and beyond – whether that’s help with choosing products, great after-sales service or returns, or simply a first-class customer experience. 

Value for money is also key, particularly for everyday essentials. Our star ratings reveal how customers rated each retailer on these measures, and others.

These results can come in particularly handy if you need to buy a type of product you don’t usually shop for, and also if you’re looking to try out new retailers you might not have considered before now. 

We also name Which? Recommended Providers (WRP) for each category. Only those with top customer scores, plus at least four stars for customer service and delivery and three for value for money, make the grade. 

What’s more, we only allow stores to become WRPs if they give customers at least 28 days to return non-faulty goods. We exclude any retailers that give misleading or unclear information about returns.

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