Are you wowed by Wegmans or do you stay true to Trader Joe's?
For its April issue, Consumer Reports polled over 75,000 shoppers in the U.S. about where they buy their groceries and the results revealed that buyers really like to stick to what they know best.
The magazine’s subscribers rated 96 national and regional supermarkets, super centers and warehouse clubs — and regional chains took up the top four slots for overall customer satisfaction.
The first national chain to appear in the top spot was Trader Joe's.
The Texas-based chain Central Market, Wegmans (which is an East Coast favorite), the Ohio and Chicago-centered Heinen’s and the Southern California-based Gelson’s Markets all earned the highest scores from shoppers. Bigger name stores, like Whole Foods and Walmart, paled in comparison to many of the smaller chains with deep roots in local markets.
The full ratings from Consumer Reports were based on 13 key factors about overall shoppers' experiences including cleanliness, product prices, food quality, variety, checkout speed, staff helpfulness and fresh/healthy item availability.
Each of the top scoring regional stores and Trader Joe’s received the highest rating — green — for cleanliness.
Publix, which landed in spot No. 11, received the highest marks for cleanliness, too, while Costco, which sits at No. 10 on the list, received a slightly above average rating — light green. No single store received the top grade in all 13 categories.
Beyond the top scorers, the lowest ranking stores on the list may surprise some shoppers.
Whole Foods landed at the 54th spot out of 96 stores. Although the Amazon-owned grocer claimed it would be lowering its prices since the web company’s acquisition in 2017, prices rose again in February. Whole Foods received the lowest mark — red — when ranked by competitiveness of food prices.
But attractive pricing wasn’t the only deciding factor for survey respondents. In February, using publicly available financial data and information collected from 7,000 different household surveys, Dunnhumby ranked the top 13 least expensive grocery stores.
Aldi earned the top spot in Dunhumby’s ratings, but it landed in spot No. 23 among Consumer Reports' survey respondents. That chain struggled with its availability of “fresh prepared foods” and “locally produced products,” according to the magazine.
At the very bottom of the list, Acme Markets, Walmart Supercenter and Tops earned unsatisfactory ratings from consumers who shopped at these stores multiple times.
Acme and Tops both struggled most in the category "prices of organic options." According to Consumer Reports, Walmart was “the only grocer out of 96” to get a red mark, the lowest grade, for customer service.