- Overall customer satisfaction with large grocery chains dropped significantly in 2020, according to the latest Retail and Consumer Shipping Report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), released Tuesday.
- Trader Joe’s was the highest-rated food retailer in the report, with a score of 84 on the report’s 100-point scale. The chain was followed by Costco, H-E-B, Publix and Wegmans. Those retailers all earned scores of 82 in the study, which takes data drawn from interviews with 70,767 randomly selected customers conducted between Jan. 13 and Dec. 27, 2020, into account.
- While the supermarket industry's satisfaction grade fell at the second-fastest rate among the six retail categories covered by the study — all of which lost ground in 2020 — the sector remains home to some of the best-rated retailers in the United States.
The pandemic has battered the public images of retailers of all stripes, with supermarkets taking hits last year in all the gauges of customer satisfaction included in the ACSI report.
In fact, the grocery industry was unable to muster a score of at least 80 — the threshold for “excellent” in the report — in any measure of satisfaction with the exception of two that were new to the survey in 2020. Those benchmarks include the convenience of store hours and store location.
Grocery shoppers showed particular displeasure when asked about the availability of goods, store layout and cleanliness, and the freshness of meat and produce. People were also especially displeased with the frequency of sales and promotions offered by supermarkets.
Some of these metrics were no doubt impacted by disruption surrounding the pandemic. Retail supply chains struggled to keep store shelves stocked, particularly in the first half of last year, while grocers pulled back on product promotions to keep from over-stimulating demand.
Looked at chain-by-chain, the overall satisfaction ratings grocers garnered in 2020 paint a picture of a stratified industry. Even as Trader Joe’s, Costco, H-E-B, Publix, Wegmans, Aldi and Sam’s Club came in with scores of at least 80, a number scored 75 or below. These retailers include Save-A-Lot, Winn-Dixie owner Southeastern Grocers, Giant Eagle and Albertsons. Walmart came in at the bottom of the list, with a satisfaction score of 71.
Trader Joe’s score of 84, the same as its grade in 2019, put it atop all retailers covered by the survey, which rated department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, health and personal care retailers, online merchants and gas stations in addition to supermarkets. The survey also measured satisfaction with Fedex, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.
As a group, supermarkets earned a satisfaction score of 76 in the survey, a 2.6% decline from 2019, and no food retailer increased its rating. Only the internet retail category, which saw its rating plummet 3.7% to 78, fell at a faster pace. Taken together, retailers shed 2.3%, to 5.5, its lowest ACSI score since 2015.
The ACSI findings about grocers are at odds with the findings of a survey of 2,000 shoppers between April and October 2020 by the Retail Feedback Group. That study found that people’s approval of supermarkets was on the rise, with their sense that supermarkets were able to keep items on the shelf showing especially strong improvement.
Grocers also fared well in the 2020 Axios Harris Poll 100, an annual ranking of U.S. companies' reputations based on survey results collected between June 24 and July 6.