People love Trader Joe’s. The California-based supermarket makes national headlines every time it releases a new snack, fans write odes to Two Buck Chuck, and devoted shoppers line up to nosh on free samples or just browse the aisles of the beloved, indie-turned-mainstream grocer.
They were America’s most popular grocery store for years, but not anymore.
After three years as America’s top supermarket, two regional grocers and a warehouse store knocked the beloved chain off its perch.
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What the ACSI poll says about our favorite supermarkets
Every year the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) polls thousands of Americans to gauge satisfaction levels in the retail space. Consumers rank department stores, online retailers, specialty stores, and grocery stores, and the ACSI collates the data into several categories.
This year, the ACSI gathered data from over 40,000 customers who were randomly chosen and contacted via email. Customers were asked to rate their recent shopping experiences and individual supermarkets on a variety of criteria, including staff interactions, value, services, and cleanliness, on a 100-point scale.
While some companies have held a number one spot for years, the results this time around are startling.
Supermarket satisfaction is up
Customers were happy to hit the aisles this past year. The overall satisfaction score increased by 4%, from 82 to 86, for the 79 supermarkets in the study. Why were people happier with food shopping? It was a combination of things: better sales, good deals on promotional items, a healthier supply chain, and food inflation slowing down.
For the most part, stores have increased their hours, recovering from pandemic-era early closing times and allowing consumers to shop later in the day. And, thanks to an evening out of the supply chain issues that plagued retailers during and shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic, it was easier for customers to get everything on their shopping list.
The quality and freshness of meat and produce jumped four points from 80 to 84, and consumers appreciated having the ability to buy brand-name goods, up from 80 to 84. Having a more comprehensive range of available options resulted in an increase of six points, from 75 to 81.
Increased availability means more promotions to get people in the door and shopping. And more deals made people happy. The satisfaction rating for deals was 80, up five points from last year.
Three supermarkets tied for first place
This year, three stores tied for first place — Costco, H-E-B, and Publix — all with a satisfaction rating of 85. While all three received high marks for their private-label goods, there were standouts in other categories.
Costco and San Antonio-based H-E-B took the spotlight in product value. Customers shopping at both stores got a bigger bang for their buck than if they bought the same things from a competitor.
Publix, a Southern regional chain found in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and Virginia, knocked it out of the park with its immaculate stores, helpful staff, and store layout.
As for the store whose cashiers wear Hawaiian shirts, Trader Joe’s didn’t move up or down in the satisfaction index. While their rank went down, their customer satisfaction rate, 84, stayed the same.
Stores and their scores
|Sam’s Club (Walmart)
|BJ’s Wholesale Club
|Whole Foods (Amazon)
|Save A Lot
Trader Joe’s is known for great prices, healthy options, and a relaxed atmosphere. Even with an ardent fan base, they lost their spot as the most satisfying supermarket to shop in the United States.
H-E-B, Costco, and Publix toppled Trader Joe’s winning streak. While all four of these stories provide great ways to save money on groceries, what was the true deciding factor?
Based on the data, one thing stood out — promos and sales, which Trader Joe’s famously eschews in favor of fair pricing all the time. Maybe the chain should try running a sale or two, like the competition. And bring back the fresh cranberry orange relish.
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