The 14 best supermarkets in America (Part I)

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Great grocers

The supermarket as we know it is changing. A wave of consolidations is sweeping the industry, and the largest chains are changing focus as they face increasing competition from more niche stores. Online-only competitors like Amazon (AMZN) Fresh and FreshDirect are also gaining market share.

The changes could be good news for consumers, many of whom have qualms about the current in-store shopping experience. A survey of more than 27,000 subscribers in the May issue of Consumer Reports finds that although most consumers are satisfied overall, more than half had at least one complaint about their current store. Almost a third of customers had two or more problems with their grocer.

The survey revealed that a few stores are doing a great job of satisfying their customers. The magazine graded 55 major chains based on the consumer survey and found that east-coast chain Wegmans ranked the best, with a score of 88 out of 100 possible points.

At the other end of the list, retail behemoth Wal-Mart (WMT) scored the worst, receiving a paltry 67.

Consumers are becoming far less loyal to their supermarkets and are increasingly willing to visit more than one store, picking up the basics at one supermarket, traveling to another for ethnic or gourmet foods, and filling out the rest of their needs with online shipments.

hebDBCF7274B561819EF04D19ED73DE4_h218_w423_m6_ofalse_lfalse_bwhiteH-E-B

Reader score: 81
Location: Texas, northern Mexico
Year founded: 1905

H-E-B appeals to the Texas pride of its customers, with private labels often referencing the Lone Star State and “Hill Country Fare.” The chain received above-average rankings on all categories on the survey.

harris29EC63FB614C15786FE114F849C631_h218_w423_m6_ofalse_lfalse_bwhiteHarris-Teeter

Reader score: 81
Location: N.C., S.C., Va., Ga., Tenn., Fla., Md., Del., and D.C.
Year founded: 1939

In January, supermarket giant Kroger (KR) finalized its purchase of this southeastern chain for $2.5 billion. The combined company will operate more than 2,600 stores and employ more than 368,000 workers.

DDC8A47069D1D47EF8EEBD22BA632F_h218_w423_m6_ofalse_lfalse_bwhiteHy-Vee

Reader score: 81
Location: Ill., Iowa, Mo., Kan., Neb., S.D., Minn., Wis.
Year founded: 1930

At this supermarket, customers never have to shop hungry: They can sit down to a full meal before stocking up their carts. The Midwestern chain has announced plans to remodel 75 of its stores in the next three years to feature a full-service restaurant and bar.

aldiE30B11B8DB34F259B1F3674F861AE_h218_w423_m6_ofalse_lfalse_bwhiteAldi

Reader score: 81
Location: Nationwide
Year founded: 1913

Owned by the same German company that owns Trader Joe’s, Aldi has been expanding rapidly, adding more than 80 new stores annually in recent years.  The store’s fans love the low prices so much that they’re willing to pay a quarter to use a cart in the store.

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Reader score: 81
Location: Ariz., Calif., Idaho, Nev., Ore., Utah, Wash.
Year founded: 1967

This employee-owned chain has garnered a huge reputation within the supermarket industry for its rock-bottom prices, which often even undercut the deals offered by Wal-Mart (WMT). However, unlike Wal-Mart, which is often criticized for its treatment of employees, Win-Co is an employee-owned chain, and offers most staffers, including part-time employees, pension benefits and a health plan.

5CF7FC10ED93DB984993397D61D5E3_h218_w423_m6_ofalse_lfalse_bwhiteStater Bros.

Reader score: 83
Location: Calif.
Year founded: 1936

Stater Bros. is the largest privately owned supermarket chain in Southern California, with more than 18,000 employees and nearly $4 billion in annual revenue. The store received the highest rating in price satisfaction, and an above-average rating on service, cleanliness, and perishables.

 

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