Following four years of fairly steady customer satisfaction, the supermarket industry’s rating in this area has dropped 2.6% to a score of 76 out of 100, with 17 of 20 major grocers earning lower scores year over year, according to data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe’s is No. 1 in the supermarket industry — as well as the entire retail sector — with a stable score of 84, with four companies tying for second place with scores of 82: Costco (down 1%), H-E-B (down 2%), Publix (down 1%) and Wegmans (down 2%). The remaining top-tier performer from 2019, Aldi, slid 4% to tie with a stable Sam’s Club at 80.
On the low end of the scale, several companies dipped further behind the industry average than they did in 2019. Southeastern Grocers fell 4% to 73, while Giant Eagle plunged 5% to 72. In last place, Albertsons Cos. declined 5% and Walmart decreased 3% to tie at 71.
Overall, the retail sector dropped 2.3% to a score of 75.5, the lowest ACSI score logged for the sector since 2015.
“2020 sent waves of disruption across the retail sector,” noted David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI, which is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “From mandatory closures that halted in-person shopping to stock shortages caused by panic buying, retailers experienced anything but business as usual. Deliveries from online retailers were delayed, and customers were frustrated when high-demand items sold out. And it shows, as 86% of the retailers measured suffer downturns in customer satisfaction year over year.”
The report encompasses six retail industries — department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, health and personal care stores, supermarkets, internet retail and gas stations — along with consumer shipping and the U.S. Postal Service. Among the retail categories, none escaped the trend of declining customer satisfaction this past year.
In 2020, online retail fared the worst of all the retail categories, falling 3.7% to a score of 78. Nordstrom took the industry lead despite dipping 1% to a score of 81. In second place, Costco (down 1%), Etsy (down 2%), and Newegg (down 1%) tied at 80, while Amazon plunged 5% to an all-time low of 79.
Meanwhile, with a stable score of 78, Target was the only e-commerce retailer to buck the downward ACSI trend. Most of the industry garnered scores below the average of 78: Macy’s and Wayfair both plummeted 4% to scores of 77, tied with eBay (down 3%). As well as Amazon, smaller sites showed the steepest declines in the category, plunging 5% to 75 as another big-tech player, Apple, dropped 4% to 75.
Walmart and Sears retained their places at the bottom, with Walmart dipping 1% to 73 and Sears decreasing 1% to 72.
After two years of stable customer satisfaction, the department and discount store industry declined 1.3% to score of 75. Only two companies managed small gains, while 13 of 19 major store chains saw customer satisfaction decreases year over year. Costco stayed in first place for the fifth year in a row, despite dropping 2% to a score of 81 and narrowing its lead over its competitors in this category.
In second place, Nordstrom (including Nordstrom Rack) edged up 1% to 80, while Dillard’s came in third, up 1% for a score of 79. Kohl’s and TJX (Marshalls and TJ Maxx) were next, both dipping 1% to tie at 78, while BJ’s Wholesale Club (down 3%) and Macy’s (down 1%) followed close behind, each with a score of 77 each.
Six retailers earned a score of 76: Smaller stores (down 4%), Belk (down 3%), Burlington (same as last year), JCPenney (down 3%), Ross Stores (same as last year) and Target (down 3%).
At the bottom, Dollar Tree slipped 4% to an all-time low of 74, while Dollar General fell 3% to share the lowest score in the category, 71, with Walmart (same as last year).
Customer satisfaction with specialty stores receded 1.3% to score of 77, the industry’s lowest point since 2015. L Brands made the specialty retail store industry top spot for a seventh consecutive year, yet dipped 1% to an ACSI score of 81. Hobby Lobby and Nike both made their debut in a second-place tie, each earning 80, as did Sephora (same as last year).
First-timers Pet Retail Brands and TJX’s HomeGoods chain both came in at 79, a little ahead of Bed Bath & Beyond (78) and Wayfair (77).
Several retailers in their ACSI debuts were grouped at or within a point of the industry average: Famous Footwear and PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger) all scored 78, Apple and Discount Tire met the industry average of 77, and American Eagle Outfitters and H&M both garnered scores of 76. Mall-oriented retailer Signet Jewelers made its first-ever showing at 76.
Among the steepest declines, Ascena’s ACSI score fell 5% to 76, while customer satisfaction slid 4% for the Menards (77), Home Depot (75) and Lowe’s (75). J.Crew received an inaugural ACSI score of 75, the lowest among apparel chains, while Ace Hardware entered the Index at 74.
At the bottom, Williams-Sonoma received 73 in its first ACSI appearance, while GameStop kept its last-place rank among specialty retailers, falling 4% to an all-time-low score of 72.
For the third straight year, customer satisfaction with the health and personal care (drug) store industry deteriorated, declining 1.3% to a score of 75.
The group of smaller drug stores stayed in the lead, although with a lower score, down 4% to 79. CVS came in next, steady at 77 for the third year in a row, paced by Kroger, which dropped 3% to a score of 76.
Walgreens remained below the industry average, rising just 1% to 74. Walmart came next, dipping 1% to 73. Rite Aid and Albertsons took up the bottom, both plummeting 4% to 72.
Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, Walgreens, Costco, CVS Health, Target, Albertsons and Sam’s Club occupy the nine spots of The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Publix (No. 12), H-E-B (No. 17), Rite Aid (No. 18), Aldi US (No. 26), BJ’s (No. 27) Trader Joe’s (No. 28), Dollar Tree (No. 30), Family Dollar (No. 32), Southeastern Grocers (No. 34), Wegmans (No. 36) and Giant Eagle (No. 39) all appear on the list.
The “ASCI Retail and Consumer Shipping Report 2020-2021” is based on interviews with 70,767 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between Jan. 13, 2020, and Dec. 27, 2020.
A national economic indicator for 25 years, the ACSI measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors. Reported on a scale of 0 to 100, scores are based on data from interviews with around 500,000 customers annually.