- Consumer satisfaction with food retailers rose between April and October, with people’s perception of grocers’ ability to keep items in stock showing particularly strong improvement, according to a survey of 2,000 shoppers conducted by the Retail Feedback Group (RFG).
- Just over three-quarters of shoppers surveyed in October indicated that everything they wanted to purchase was available when they visited a supermarket, up from 49% in April. The proportion of shoppers who said they were able to get everything they wanted when shopping online rose from 51% to 68% during the period.
- Although supermarket satisfaction scores have improved, RFG's survey suggested the sector has room for improvement. Supermarkets' highest-scoring differentiating qualities, value for money and employee friendliness, scored just 3.63 and 3.62, respectively, on a five-point scale. And just 32% of supermarket customers said they plan to shop online in the coming year, down from 44% who said so this spring.
The findings from RFG are the latest sign that consumers feel good about grocers’ ability to deal with the safety and logistical challenges that come with running large-scale retail operations in the midst of a public health crisis.
Improving trust in grocers is especially significant in light of the rising interest in stocking up as shoppers stare down a winter expected to be especially deadly even as COVID-19 vaccine distribution gets underway.
Some 59% of shoppers who participated in the survey keep a supply of canned and boxed items that could last several months, up from 43% before the pandemic started, About 45% of shoppers said they strive to keep a multi-month supply of frozen food on hand, compared with just over a third before the health crisis began.
The research also found that Walmart is especially popular among online grocery shoppers. According to the data, 47% of respondents indicated that their most recent online grocery purchase came from Walmart, ahead of Amazon and other competitors, and up from the 40% who said the same earlier this year.
However, Amazon showed the highest potential for future e-grocery orders, with 54% of the retailer's customers saying they intend to shop online with it in the coming year, compared to 48% of Walmart customers. Shoppers were also more satisfied with the experience they had buying online from Amazon than from competitors.
Pickup accounted for 54% of e-commerce transactions among survey participants, up from 51% in April.
The research also points to increasing dominance by Instacart among third-party e-commerce providers. The company was involved in 43% of online orders placed by people who participated in RFG's research, up from 35% in April and 27% last year.
RFG's survey spotlighted some worrying signs for supermarkets, which have benefited immensely this year from consumers consolidating shopping trips but remain under intense competitive pressure. In addition to low scores on differentiating qualities like value and service, supermarkets are seeing lower interest in online shopping — a channel where it's easy to lose customers. According to the survey, just 25% of respondents in October said they made their most recent online purchase from a supermarket, down from 34% this spring.
RFG's findings about people’s satisfaction with grocers echo research conducted earlier in the year that showed people were placing faith in the food retailing industry to help them ride out the pandemic. Retailers Publix, Wegmans, Costco, Kroger and Amazon took half of the top 10 spots in the 2020 Axios Harris Poll 100, a ranking of U.S. companies' reputations based on public perception. That poll was based on responses from consumers collected between June 24 and July 6.