Survey Says Trader Joe’s Is America’s Favorite Grocery Store

Other top retailers are non-traditional grocers focused on value

Trader Joe's came out on top in a Dunnhumby survey. Getty Images
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Trader Joe’s—the grocery store chain known for private labels, Hawaiian shirts, maritime bells and Two Buck Chuck—was once again the top retailer in consumer data company Dunnhumby’s annual survey of America’s favorite grocery stores.

Dunnhumby asked 7,000 U.S. households about price, quality, digital, operations, convenience, discounts/rewards and speed to determine which of the country’s largest grocers have the strongest financial performance and emotional attachment among consumers.

Trader Joe’s came out on top, thanks in part to its small format, limited national brand offering and—funny enough—its digital absence, which the firm said helps it focus on private labels and shopping speed.

“This strategy sacrifices reaching customers through a growing digital channel and breadth of assortment and therefore losing on one-stop shop-ability and convenience,” a release said. “However, this loss is also their gain, since it allows them to deliver what matters most to their customers.”

Dunnhumby said this also minimizes costs and keeps prices low, allowing the retailer to reinvest in customer service, product quality and in-store experiences.

In addition to Trader Joe’s, the top 10 grocers this year are: Costco Wholesale, Amazon, H-E-B, Wegmans Food Markets, Market Basket, Sam’s Club, Sprouts Farmers Markets, WinCo Foods and Walmart.

Dunnhumby said these are the retailers that excel in price and quality.

In addition, the firm noted retailers in the top quartile are mostly non-traditional grocers with targeted offerings designed to maximize value perception. This, in turn, has hurt more traditional regional grocery banners. The discounts and rewards local stores use to grow sales are adding to their financial woes, the study said.

“In the U.S., hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on discounts, rewards and promotions every year, but over two-thirds of promotions don’t break even,” Dunnhumby added. “To maximize the success of a discounts/rewards program, retailers need to have at least average price perception and a highly relevant assortment, supported by a strong private brand.”

While Trader Joe’s was tops overall, other retailers to score high category marks include Aldi for price, Wegmans for quality, Amazon for digital, Market Basket for operations, Walmart for convenience, Fry’s for discounts/rewards and Amazon for speed.

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.