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Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix, Costco, Sprouts Top Consumer Reports’ Grocer Ratings

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When it comes to supermarkets, biggest isn’t always best. In Consumer Reports’ latest survey, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix, Costco and Sprouts earned the highest scores overall among 55 of the nation’s major grocery stores; Walmart, America’s largest grocer, landed at the bottom of the ratings, based on a survey of 27,208 subscribers.

The report, which includes the entire ratings of grocery stores and tips for saving time and money at the supermarket, is available in the May issue of Consumer Reports and at ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports’ survey, which reflects 48,076 shopping visits, reveals readers satisfaction with service. While most respondents said they were quite satisfied overall, more than half had at least one complaint about their current store. Nearly a third of respondents cited two or more problems. However, no chain tried their customers’ patience more than Walmart Supercenter.

The biggest gripe overall: Not enough open checkouts (cited by 19 percent of shoppers), followed by congested aisles, out-of-stock advertised specials and lack of choice. Walmart shoppers surveyed were especially irritated by too few open checkouts, out-of-stock basic items and spotty price labeling.

Store choice matters because Americans are heavily invested in their supermarkets. One-third of subscribers surveyed told Consumer Reports they had quit shopping at a nearby grocery store in the past year, mostly because of high prices, but also because of long waits, inadequate selection or poor food quality. Fifty-eight percent of respondents gave a store the boot because of prices, compared with 43 percent in 2011.

Fortunately, most consumers have several shopping choices, and some supermarkets gave customers much of what they want. National grocers Costco and Trader Joe’s, along with Publix (South), Sprouts (West), and Wegmans (East), offer better quality meat and produce and a cleaner shopping environment. All but Costco also earned the highest possible marks for service, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed. Service is minimal at warehouse clubs such as Costco, and lengthy lines are a trade-off for day-in, day-out deals.

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