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- RESEARCH & AWARDS
What makes or breaks a supermarket for shoppers?
According to Consumer Reports' latest survey based on a survey of 27,208 subscribers, not enough open checkouts (cited by 19 percent of shoppers), followed by congested aisles, out-of-stock advertised specials, and lack of choice are the biggest gripes.
It found Walmart shoppers surveyed were especially irritated by too few open checkouts, out-of-stock basic items, and spotty price labeling. This matters greatly when you consider the survey also found one-third of subscribers had quit shopping at a nearby grocery store in the past year, mostly because of high prices, but also because of long waits, inadequate selection, or poor food quality.
Lower prices are becoming increasingly important, a hard-learned lesson over the last several years that shoppers seem unwilling to let go. Fifty-eight percent of respondents gave a store the boot because of prices, compared with 43 percent in 2011. Having a strong store brand range that your shoppers know they can count on for low prices can help in this department.
The two top grocers, Wegmans at No. 1 and Trader Joe's at No. 2, are both shining examples of supermarkets with strong private label programs. Publix, Costco and Sprouts also earned the highest scores overall among 55 of the nation's major grocery stores.
National grocers Costco and Trader Joe's, along with Publix (South), Sprouts (West), and Wegmans (East), offer better quality meat and produce and a cleaner shopping environment. All but Costco also earned the highest possible marks for service, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed. Of course shoppers seem to be willing to trade long lines at club stores for price deals.
The full report, which includes the entire Ratings of grocery stores and tips for saving time and money at the supermarket, is available in the May issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.