Study Reveals America's Top Grocery Chains - and Costco Isn't #1

MANAGE MONEY - SHOPPING
Your grocery store may have made the list for its high marks for price, quality, and more.
Updated Feb. 12, 2024
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Is your grocery store one of the best in the country or a real dud? A company called dunnhumby, which advises retailers about consumer issues, put together its seventh annual Retailer Preference Index to track consumer trends among grocery stores.

Several well-known stores made the list while Trader Joe’s just missed out, ending up 16th in the survey.

But which store reached the top spot? You may be surprised by the answer. Check out the top 15 to see where your favorite stores landed, and where you might want to try shopping if you want to save more on everyday essentials.

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Kroger

wolterke/Adobe Kroger store exterior

Kroger is in the process of merging with Albertsons grocery store chain so you may be able to try out a Kroger option even if you don’t have one nearby yet.

The merger is still being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, so it may be some time before you see a Kroger arrive in your neighborhood.

WinCo Foods

Oksana/Adobe A Winco food store

You may not have heard of WinCo Foods as the grocery chain only has 140 locations in 10 states and is mainly in the western United States.

But the small chain seems to have made a big impression in the dunnhumby survey by ending up among the top 15 best grocery chains in the country.

Fry’s

Eduardo Barraza/Adobe fry's food marketplace

You’ll have to travel to Arizona to get a taste of what makes Fry’s so great.

The grocery retailer is in 34 cities but all of them are in Arizona so you’ll need to make some room in your suitcase for your Fry’s finds if you don’t live in the state.

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Target

wolterke/Adobe vacant entrance in front of target

Target might be better known for home goods and seasonal items, but you can also grab plenty of treats from its grocery section.

Target’s shelves include plenty of store-brand items that can help you save extra cash like the retailer’s Good and Gather brand for everyday grocery items or its Favorite Day brand for specialty treats.

Publix

John Mantell Photo/Adobe cape coral publix store with huge sign board at entrance with pharmacy and food logo in cape coral

Head south to check out a Publix and see if you can find some great deals.

The grocery chain has almost 1,400 locations across eight states in the South, but your best bet is to find a location in Florida as more than 60% of Publix locations are located in the Sunshine State.

Walmart

Michael Vi/Adobe Walmart store facade

Walmart is located in all 50 states with groceries as a part of its stores, making it easy to go there for one-stop shopping to grab clothes, home goods, and food.

Like Target, Walmart also has a store brand with plenty of affordable options under its Great Value label for you to check out when you’re shopping on a budget.

Walmart Neighborhood Market

wolterke/Adobe walmart sign on a sunny street.

You may be more familiar with big Walmart stores compared to Walmart Neighborhood Markets, but it may be an option to check out.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets are smaller stores that specialize in groceries. They may also have beauty care options and a pharmacy.

It’s a great alternative if you don’t want to deal with the crowds of a typical Walmart store while shopping.

ShopRite

ALAN/Adobe shoprrite supermarket

Head to the northeast to find a local ShopRite, which is located in eight states on the East Coast and New England.

New Jersey may be your best choice to find a ShopRite with 58% of the store’s locations in the Garden State. But you can also find ShopRites in New York, Pennsylvania, and even a few in Connecticut.

Aldi

wolterke/Adobe adi supermarket and trademark logo

Aldi started as a German grocery store before making its way to the States with unique finds at affordable prices.

Aldi fans may want to keep an eye out for seasonal merchandise that shows off their love for the store like Aldi sweaters, travel mugs, backpacks, and even pajamas.

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Wegmans

JHVEPhoto/Adobe A Wegmans store

Wegmans is located in nine states on the East Coast so pack your bags to find out why the chain has so many fans.

The grocery chain has a wide selection of specialty foods and fresh-baked items, or you can check out your local store’s olive bar to get olives for any occasion in its uniquely designed stores that make you feel like you’re not in a grocery store.

Sam’s Club

CPR/Adobe sam's club store front

Bulk retailers like Sam’s Club are a great option if you want to save money on a per-unit cost for bulk items.

Check out Sam’s Club to stock up on snacks for the family or supplies for your next barbecue. You should also make sure you grab some non-food items from the retailer like toilet paper and paper towels so you always have some in stock at home.

Market Basket

Michal/Adobe market near vegetable shelves

Market Basket is only in a small number of states, but New Englanders are sure to enjoy a trip there for groceries.

The grocery chain only has 95 locations across four states: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island.

Costco

BINGJHEN/Adobe costco wholesale storefront in kaohsiung taiwan

You may be surprised that Costco is only third on the list, but it’s still near the top because of its great deals on bulk items, household goods, electronics, and more.

You should also stop by the store’s food court for pizza, smoothies, or the retailer’s famous hot-dog-and-drink combo that only costs $1.50.

In fact, the company opened its own hot dog factory to help keep the cost of the food court deal at such a low price point.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to check out the best Costco shopping hacks to save even more.

Amazon

Mike Mareen/Adobe amazon logistics center

Amazon may be a surprising entry on this list due to its online nature that allows customers to order groceries for delivery or pick them up at a nearby store like Whole Foods, which is owned by the online retailer.

You can choose from different kinds of options and have them delivered to your door or pick them up at a nearby grocery retailer, making Amazon a unique but convenient option if you don’t mind trying a typical grocery store alternative.

H-E-B

JHVEPhoto/Adobe h-e-b supermarket store sign

You’ll have to travel to the Lone Star State as H-E-B is only in one location in the U.S.: Texas.

This is the second consecutive year that the retailer made the top spot of the dunnhumby survey, which measures things like prices, quality, and operations.

The store also is a hit with shoppers who appreciate the retailer’s love for all things Texas, like Texas-shaped pans and Texas-shaped tortilla chips as well as specialty items from local stores like Whataburger.

Bottom line

AIPERA/Adobe women shopping in the supermarket

There are plenty of ways to save money on groceries whether your store is one of the top 15 on the dunnhumby list or not.

Make sure you take a shopping list with you when you get groceries so you can stick to your budget.

It’s also a good idea to sign up for a grocery store’s app or loyalty program to earn extra perks or save money depending on how often you shop there.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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