Which Grocers Rank Highest for Shopper Satisfaction?

Trader Joe's no longer No. 1 on American Customer Satisfaction Index
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Costco, H-E-B and Publix tied for first in ACSI's annual customer satisfaction study, taking the crown from Trader Joe's.

After some decidedly heavy years, many of the clouds hovering over the retail industry are lifting and revealing a bit of a reset, a new survey shows. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) "Retail and Consumer Shipping Study 2023-2024," customer satisfaction in the grocery sector rose 4% compared to last year for a collective score of 79 and more than 60% of retailers experienced a lift in their scores.

While successive challenges – including the pandemic, supply chain backups, labor shortages and record inflation – have eased, consumers have emerged with a focus on value, the research found. Accordingly, there have been some changes to the ACSI industry rankings.

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This year, repeat customer satisfaction winner Trader Joe’s was usurped by Costco, H-E-B and Publix, which shared a three-way tie atop the industry with a store of 85. Costco’s score climbed 4%, H-E-B’s rose 5% and Publix's went up by 4% in the past year. Trader Joe’s came in fourth with a score of 84.

The study also delved into various aspects of satisfaction. Publix performed best for in-store experience, including staff courtesy and store cleanliness and layout. Costco and H-E-B ranked highest for value, the ACSI's researchers found. Shoppers were satisfied with private label offerings at all three of those grocers.

Other grocers experienced gains this year as well. The score for Sam’s Club climbed 5% to 83, while Meijer and ShopRite led the pack in terms of increases, each improving 7% for an 80 grade.

Although Walmart didn’t earned top-tier ACSI scores in the grocery realm, that chain did rank first in the drugstore category. Meanwhile, Amazon came in behind pet site Chewy in the online retail sector, earning high marks from customer for ease of navigation and checkout. Costco’s score in the digital channel rose 3%, as the warehouse operator tied for third with eBay and HP Store.

[RELATED: “Which Grocers Poll High for E-Commerce Experiences?”]

“As seen across other sectors of the economy, issues stemming from the pandemic, including supply disruptions and uneven service quality, are dissipating,” summed up Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ACSI. “For industries like supermarkets and gas stations, moderating inflation is helping to improve the value proposition. And leading up to the holiday season, consumers looking to stretch their dollars responded positively to discounters and retailers that excelled in sales and promotions or pumped more value into the experience through private label offerings.”

The ACSI study was based on interviews with more than 40,000 customers, conducted from January 2023 through December 2023. 

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 15, Lakeland, Fla.-headquartered Publix is No. 12. Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27 and Meijer of Grand Rapids, Mich., is No. 23.  Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart is No. 1 on The PG 100, while its Sam’s Club division is No. 8 and Amazon of Seattle, Wash., is No. 2. 

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