OPERATIONS

Trader Joe’s is consumers’ favorite grocery store

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boulder, Colo. – Trader Joe’s is North America’s favorite grocery retailer based on satisfaction. A study of more than 6,200 consumers by Market Force Information, also found that Publix and Aldi were ranked second and third.

All three were lauded for their courteous and fast service, as well as the quality of their private-label brands. For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score, which reveals the intersection between overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a store to others.

Trader Joe’s took the No. 1 spot out of the 12 grocery chains studied, with a score of 82%, and was trailed by Publix with 80%. Aldi, Costco and Hy-Vee rounded out the top five. This is the second year in a row that Trader Joe’s ranked first and Publix ranked second. Whole Foods and Wegman’s, which made it into the top five in the 2013 study, scored well, but failed to garner enough votes to earn a top spot on this year’s list, while brands like Safeway moved up considerably.

Publix and Trader Joe’s scored highest in many of the operational attributes that matter most to consumers, including courteous service, fast checkouts and inviting atmosphere. Aldi was the clear leader in low prices, ShopRite received the highest marks for its sales and promotions, and Walmart was lauded for offering a one-stop shopping experience.

Market Force also looked at consumer preferences across categories such as produce, meat and private-label products. Costco trumped Publix and H-E-B for highest-quality meat. Publix won on offering the highest-quality produce, with H-E-B a close second. Trader Joe’s dominated in categories related to healthy food and nutrition. It scored an 83% for its natural and organic food choice, far ahead of Publix with 31%. It also led by a wide margin in providing nutrition and health information and instituting sustainable policies. The honors for best private-label brand products also went to Trader Joe’s, followed by Aldi and H-E-B.

Market Force drilled down to identify the four most popular grocers in each region. Walmart led in all regions, except for the Northeast where ShopRite was a strong favorite. Publix was the second-favorite in the South, Kroger in the Midwest, Safeway in the West and Sobeys in Canada.

• Nationally: Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Aldi
• Northeast: ShopRite, Walmart, Stop & Shop, Giant
• South: Walmart, Publix, Kroger, H-E-B
• Midwest: Walmart, Kroger, Hy-Vee, Aldi
• West: Walmart, Safeway, Costco, WinCo Foods
• Canada: Walmart, Sobeys, Loblaws, No Frills

“Competition is fierce and growing in the grocery sector with regional players going national and national players moving toward neighborhood market concepts,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “It’s only getting more difficult to attract and keep customers, and being adequate is no longer good enough. We’ve found that delighted customers are three times more likely to recommend a grocery store than those who had just an OK experience. This tells us that chains that truly wow their customers on their first visit can establish brand advocates who go on to recommend the grocer to friends and family.”

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FINANCE

Stage Stores widens net loss in Q1

BY Dan Berthiaume

Houston – Stage Stores Inc. reported a net loss of $18.79 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, up from a net loss from $6.86 million in the same period a year earlier. Net sales slightly declined to $372.04 million from $372.1 million, while same-store sales decreased 0.2%.

One-time charges associated with moving the company’s South Hill, Virginia, operations into its Houston headquarters totaled approximately $9.7 million and contributed to Stage’s net loss. President and CEO Michael Glazer also cited factors including weather and low prices as affecting the retailer’s results.

“Comparable store sales were flat in a volatile first quarter, marked by a highly promotional retail environment and unseasonable weather,” said Glazer. Our results were also impacted by our sales mix for the quarter, which was heavily weighted with clearance goods. While this hurt our gross margin, we feel very good about our inventory content heading into the rest of the year.”

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News

LightSpeed releases new POS solution

BY Dan Berthiaume

Montreal – LightSpeed, has unveiled its new LightSpeed Cloud for iPad POS solution. The patent-pending app lets retailers use product photos, logos and other imagery to design a custom, fully branded POS and interactive selling tool that offers personalized product look-ups and recommendations.

“One of brick-and-mortar retailers’ biggest assets is the ability to immerse the customer in your brand from the moment they walk in the door,” said Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of LightSpeed. “Technologies you bring into your store should add to that, not interrupt it. With this release, we are bringing retailers’ own identity to the forefront. For the first time, they can control the entire experience, to the transaction and beyond.”

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