Best and worst supermarkets -- shoppers tell all

Wegmans, with 79 stores in the Eastern U.S., ranked No. 1 in a Consumer Reports survey of readers.
Wegmans, with 79 stores in the Eastern U.S., ranked No. 1 in a Consumer Reports survey of readers.Wegmans / Today

Wegmans and Trader Joe's are the nation's favorite supermarket chains while Pathmark and Wal-Mart rank at the bottom in a Consumer Reports survey released Tuesday.

Wegmans, which has stores in New York and several other East Coast states, topped the list, with Trader Joe’s and Publix close behind, according to the survey, compiled based on feedback from 24,203 readers.

Pathmark, a chain based in the Northeast, Wal-Mart Supercenter and Shaw's ranked lowest on the list.

All of the top picks received very high marks for service and cleanliness. Pathmark and Wal-Mart received the lowest marks for service, but Wal-Mart got excellent rankings for its prices.

But even at the most highly rated stores, readers still found plenty to criticize.

In general, the most common complaint was a shortage of checkout lanes. About one-fourth of the people who surveyed had that complaint.

Other gripes had to do with customer service. Readers complained about congested or cluttered aisles, advertised specials that were out of stock and inept bagging.

Rising grocery prices also appeared to be weighing heavily on people’s minds. Forty-three percent of those surveyed said they had switched grocers because they were looking for lower prices.

The stores with the five highest ratings were:

  1. Wegmans
  2. Trader Joe’s
  3. Publix
  4. Fareway Stores
  5. Costco

The stores that received the lowest ratings were:

  1. Pathmark
  2. Wal-Mart Supercenter
  3. Shaw’s
  4. A&P
  5. Jewel-Osco


Consumer Reports also offered a few tips for cutting your grocery bill, no matter where you shop.

Beware of sneaky signs: Just because something says “5 for $5” doesn’t mean you have to buy that many items.

Watch for the 9s: Just because something is $6.99 (or even 99 cents) doesn’t mean it’s a bargain.

Look around: Consumer Reports noted that vendors pay dearly to be right in your line of vision. Look for items that are high or low on the shelf, or those that aren’t featured at the end of the aisle. You may get a better deal.