Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe’s top consumers’ listsConsumers in the U.S. and Canada prefer to buy groceries at Trader Joe’s, Publix and Aldi, but a recent survey shows they spend more grocery dollars at Wal-Mart than at the other 11 chain stores included in the research.

In March, research firm Market Force, Louisville, Colo., analyzed responses from more than 6,200 people ranging in age from 18 to 65 years old. About three-fourths of the survey respondents were women and about half the respondents said they have children at home, according to a news release. Nearly 60% of respondents reported household incomes of more than $50,000 a year.

“The study was designed to uncover the grocers that shoppers frequent most often, which chains excel in customer satisfaction, and why (consumers) prefer one to another,” according to the news release. “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.”

Of the dozen chains included in the survey, Trader Joe’s had the highest overall score — 82% — giving it the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row. Publix ran a close second with a score of 80%, giving it the No. 2 spot.

Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe’s top consumers’ listsRounding out the top five were Aldi, Costco and Hy-Vee. Whole Foods and Wegman’s were both in the top five for the 2013 survey, but dropped to lower spots for 2014.

Publix had the high score for fresh produce, with H-E-B in second place.

Fresh produce quality was the second most important reason consumers were dissatisfied with grocery stores, with long checkout times the only negative indicator ranking more important with respondents. Poor service by floor associates and cashiers were the third and fourth negative indicators, respectively.

Trader Joe’s topped the list for “natural and organic” foods with a score of 83%. Aldi took the top spot for low prices.

Wal-Mart with its thousands of locations got more of consumers’ grocery money than other chains, but when Market Force analyzed the data it found one region of the country, the Northeast, where Wal-Mart was not the leader, according to the news release. ShopRite took the top spot for the Northeast in the regional standings.

The regional breakdown from the survey, with stores in order of consumer grocery spending:

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

The Market Force study asked consumers about several trending topics, including buying local, non-GMO and online grocery shopping.

  • Local sourcing of produce, dairy and meat was important to 59%;
  • The absence of genetically-modified organisms was the top reason for respondents to buy organic, but 38% of respondents said they were not familiar with GMOs;
  • Of those familiar with GMOs, 65% said they are concerned about their use; and
  • Online grocery buying did not fare well, with 88% of respondents saying they haven’t ordered groceries on the Web and 67% saying they have no interest in doing so in the future.