A new analysis of customer reviews posted on the Yelp site indicates Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Lakewood, Colo., draws the highest customer satisfaction scores from a group of selected publicly traded food retailers.
The analysis, published in a research note Friday by Bill Kirk of RBC Capital Markets, manually aggregated more than 130,000 Yelp customer reviews on more than 2,050 grocery stores. On Yelp’s five-star rating system, Natural Grocers averaged 4.14, the highest overall score among a group of publicly traded peers, followed by Sprouts Farmers Market (3.87), Whole Foods (3.71), The Fresh Market (3.70), Smart & Final (3.57), Kroger (3.37) and Supervalu’s Save-A-Lot (3.17). A “weighted average” removing the effect of rarely-reviewed stores resulted in the same sequential ranking, Kirk noted.
Natural Grocers’ scores compared favorably to privately held Trader Joe’s (4.24 average score) and Publix (4.10); and outscored Trader Joe’s in its core Colorado markets 4.09 to 4.08.
“We believe that investors who would love the opportunity to invest in privately held Trader Joe’s are ignoring a similar opportunity at Natural Grocers,” Kirk said.
Natural Grocers said Wednesday it will officially celebrate its 60th anniversary the week of April 22 — which encompasses Earth Day — with a series of giveaways and special events.
The chain, founded in 1955 by Margaret and Philip Isely and based in Lakewood, Colo., operates 95 stores in 16 states, with sales estimated at $521 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2014. The company said it expects to add 18 new stores this year.
To mark the anniversary and Earth Day, the chain will offer free plant-at-home vegetable-seed packets to the first 50 paying customers at each of its stores; a free reusable bag to every paying customer while supplies last; and a free special-edition copy of “Cows Save the Planet” to the first 60 customers who spend $60 or more.
Natural Grocers also said it will plant 30 trees in three Colorado communities “with significant or historic meaning to the company”: Golden, where the company was founded; Lakewood, where it is based; and Denver, the metropolitan community to which it has longtime ties.