Wegmans grocery store
Some supermarkets, such as Wegmans, performed well over the past year.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — After several years of strong customer satisfaction, supermarkets registered their lowest score in more than a decade, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (A.C.S.I.) issued Feb. 23. At 73, the supermarket satisfaction score was down nearly 4% from 76 in 2014.

But according to the A.C.S.I., it is possible for supermarkets to satisfy customers. Some supermarkets, such as Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, H-E-B and Publix performed well over the past year, while others, such as Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle and Albertsons, fell short of customer expectations, according to the A.C.S.I.

With a score of 86, Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans was one of only three companies in the retail sector to improve customer satisfaction year over year, increasing 1% from 85 in 2014. Other top-scoring supermarkets included Trader Joe’s (83), H-E-B (82), Publix (82) and Aldi (81).

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Wal-Mart, which fell 6% to 67 from 71 in 2014. Joining Wal-Mart at the bottom of the rankings were Giant Eagle (67) and Albertsons (68).

David VanAmburg, A.C.S.I.
David VanAmburg, managing director of the A.C.S.I.

“When consumers put a premium on service and quality, smaller companies often achieve higher customer satisfaction scores, and it’s the smaller independent chains that continue to set the bar for supermarkets,” said David VanAmburg, managing director of the A.C.S.I.

The biggest loser in the supermarket customer satisfaction survey was Minneapolis-based Target, which fell 12% to 71 from 81 in 2014.

“Popular as a discount store, Target quickly built up its grocery business to help attract more customers,” the A.C.S.I. noted in its report. “But the luster of convenience is wearing off as the company works to expand its grocery brands and fresh food offerings.”

Target grocery section
The biggest loser in the supermarket customer satisfaction survey was Target..

Right behind Target was Whole Foods, Austin, Texas, which fell 10% to 73 from 81. For Whole Foods it was its lowest score since the company debuted on the A.C.S.I. in 2007.

“Whole Foods cannot shake its reputation for high prices, and customers have recently reported the perception of increasing prices despite the grocer’s statement that they are trying to align their pricing to be competitive with other grocery stores,” the A.C.S.I. noted in its report. “Furthermore, competition is encroaching on its turf as a supplier of natural foods. Target, Wal-Mart and others have increased their inventory of organic offerings providing an alternative to those who want organic foods at a lower cost.”

The A.C.S.I. survey found consumers believe the supermarket experience has eroded across nearly every area compared with a year ago. The areas that have suffered the most were courtesy and helpfulness of staff, down 6%, and quality of pharmacy services, down 5%. Merchandise selection remains well regarded, though, especially in terms of brand names and variety, the A.C.S.I. said.

The A.C.S.I. is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. The A.C.S.I. uses data from interviews with approximately 70,000 customers annually as inputs to an econometric model for analyzing customer satisfaction with more than 300 companies in 43 industries and 10 economic sectors.

For the full report click here.