Bed Bath & Beyond's stores have been slammed as 'devoid of inspiration' and 'a mess.' We went shopping there and …

BedBathBeyond 8425We visited a Bed Bath & Beyond in Downtown Manhattan. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Bed Bath & Beyond is struggling to keep up with its competition.

On Thursday, the credit-ratings agency Standard & Poor downgraded its bonds to BB+ from BBB- investment grade, according to Retail Dive. In the company’s most recent earnings report in September, it reported comparable sales were down 0.6%.

The problem, according to retail experts, could be with Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores.

“Too many of Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores — especially older ones — are a mess,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in an email to CNBC in April. He continued by saying the stores’ products are “crammed into a space that is largely devoid of inspiration.”

Whether or not the stores are in bad shape, Bed Bath & Beyond offers its customers some valuable perks. It has a lenient return policy that allows customers to return almost anything for a refund. Even without a proof of purchase, customers can be refunded 80% of the original price they said. In addition, most locations allow customers to use multiple coupons at once, use expired coupons, and use coupons on already-discounted items when making purchases.

To better compete with Amazon on online orders, the store now offers free shipping on orders over $29. Some analysts have argued that while the offer is attractive, it hurts the company’s profit margins in that customers might turn elsewhere to make purchases of under $29. The company also launched a membership program, called Beyond+, that costs $29 annually and gives customers 20% off every purchase, plus free shipping.

We visited a Bed Bath & Beyond location in Downtown Manhattan earlier this year. Here’s what we found:


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