Trader Joe’s led all grocery retailers as supermarkets maintained a high level of shopper satisfaction last year, according to the 2023 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
In the “ACSI Retail and Consumer Shipping Study 2022-2023,” based on interviews with 35,685 U.S. consumers in 2022, retailers were rated on an index of 0 to 100 for a range of customer service criteria. Contributing factors included store location and hours, staff courtesy and helpfulness, store layout and cleanliness, merchandise availability, product quality, checkout speed, frequency of sales and promotions, website and online order fulfillment, among others. Six retail sectors were examined, including supermarkets, department and discount stores, drugstores, specialty retail stores, online retailers and gas stations.
Overall for 2023, customer satisfaction with the retail trade rated at an ACSI score of 74.7, down from 75.1 in the 2022 study and from 75.5 in 2021. Gas stations was the sole segment seeing satisfaction scores decline for 2023, while online and specialty retailers were the only gainers, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based ACSI reported.
Grocery retailers turned in an ACSI score of 76 in 2023, the same as in 2022 and 2021, which dipped from a 78 rating in 2020. Seven of the 21 grocery chains on ACSI’s list earned higher scores in 2023, while 11 saw lower scores and two held firm from the prior-year study.
Trader Joe’s again paced the grocery store sector with a customer satisfaction score of 84, dipping from 85 in the 2022 study but matching its rating in both 2021 and 2020. The specialty grocer’s score also tied with Amazon for No. 2 among all retailers, behind only pet care e-tailer Chewy at 85.
Warehouse club chain Costco and supermarketer Publix tied for No. 2 among grocery retailers in the 2023 ACSI with scores of 82, up from 81 and 80 respectively in 2022 and edging past H-E-B, which finished third as its score fell to 81 from 82.
Rounding out the top five slots for grocery retailers in customer satisfaction for 2023 were Aldi at 80 (81 in 2022), Wegmans at 80 (81 in 2022), BJ’s Wholesale Club at 79 (78 in 2022), Sam’s Club at 79 (same as in 2022), Target at 79 (77 in 2022) and Whole Foods Market at 79 (76 in 2022).
Hy-Vee and Kroger each tallied an ACSI score of 76 for 2023, with both dipping from 77, while Meijer, Save A Lot and ShopRite tied at 75. Ahold Delhaize USA, Albertsons Cos. and Southeastern Grocers also tied, as each posted scores of 74. Walmart gained a point for a 71 score but still finished at the bottom of the grocery retail ranking, just below Giant Eagle at 73. Albertsons saw the largest gain in the 2023 index, up three points from a year ago, whereas Giant Eagle had the biggest decline, down three points.
In the 2023 ACSI study, supermarkets saw improvement in eight of 15 customer service criteria from a year ago, including mobile app quality, store hours, store location, layout and cleanliness of store, ability to provide brand names, quality and freshness of meat and produce, call center service and pharmacy services.
Shopper satisfaction with grocery retailers, though, declined in three criteria for 2023: variety and selection of merchandise, product availability/in-stocks and frequency of sales and promotions—all factors affected by ongoing supply-chain issues. At the same time, grocers scored highly in three new criteria, all relating to click-and-collect service: ease of pickup process (86), pickup order fulfillment accuracy (82) and speed of pickup order readiness (82).
By segment, online and specialty retailers garnered the top customer-satisfaction scores for 2023 at 80 and 79, respectively, with online seeing a three-point gain and specialty climbing two points from the 2022 ACSI report. Next were grocery and drug stores at 76 (the same scores as in 2022), department and discount stores at 75 (the same as in 2022) and gas stations at 65 (down three points from 2022). Also rated in the study were consumer shipping providers, with a score of 77 for 2023, up three points from 2022.
The top retailers in other store categories were Costco (82), Sam’s Club (81) and BJ’s for department/discount/GM stores; Kroger (76) and CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens (all tied at 75) for drug stores; American Eagle Outfitters and TJX (tied at 83), Bath & Body Works (82), and Apple Store, Hobby Lobby and Ulta Beauty (all tied at 81) for specialty stores; and Chewy (85), Amazon (84), and Etsy and Gap (tied at 80) for online retailers.
“While online retailers still lead overall for shopper satisfaction, specialty retailers, with their more targeted product mixes, are gaining significant ground,” ACSI Director of Research Emeritus Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University, said in a statement. “All told, roughly half of the measured specialty chains posted impressive ACSI gains of 4% or more, without any decliners. Compared to other traditional retailers, specialty stores have managed to reduce their supply chain challenges, garnering top marks from customers for merchandise availability and selection.”