Would ‘Best Supermarkets’ Ratings Be The Same Today?

Articles
April 09, 2009

Would ‘Best Supermarkets’ Ratings Be The Same Today?

Consumer Reports magazine takes consistent measures to uphold its credibility and reputation for fairness and unbiased advice. That’s doubly important in this period when households are strained to the max and seek trustworthy commentary on essentials, which they continue to buy regardless of the economy. With the right shopping strategies—which CR aims to offer—readers save time, money and stress. Consumers have a particular interest today in CR’s coverage of food, food-related products and stores that sell them because that’s where their shopping is focused in 2009. Since our nation’s economic volatility has changed the way people plan trips, approach stores and buy what they need (if not exactly what they want), it seems likely to us at SupermarketGuru.com that their ratings of stores would also change as conditions grow more dire and we all adapt for better or worse. The CR cover story in its May 2009 issue has consumers rate supermarkets on many criteria, and Wegmans tops the list. Congratulations, Wegmans, which we at SupermarketGuru.com agree is a wonderful retailer. It is, however, a full-service chain that earns high marks for meat, produce and service, and clearly operates in a different realm from lower-price retailers like Aldi, Costco and Trader Joe’s.

Consumer Reports magazine takes consistent measures to uphold its credibility and reputation for fairness and unbiased advice. That’s doubly important in this period when households are strained to the max and seek trustworthy commentary on essentials, which they continue to buy regardless of the economy.

With the right shopping strategies—which CR aims to offer—readers save time, money and stress. Consumers have a particular interest today in CR’s coverage of food, food-related products and stores that sell them because that’s where their shopping is focused in 2009.

 
Since our nation’s economic volatility has changed the way people plan trips, approach stores and buy what they need (if not exactly what they want), it seems likely to us at SupermarketGuru.com that their ratings of stores would also change as conditions grow more dire and we all adapt for better or worse.
 
The CR cover story in its May 2009 issue has consumers rate supermarkets on many criteria, and Wegmans tops the list. Congratulations, Wegmans, which we at SupermarketGuru.com agree is a wonderful retailer. It is, however, a full-service chain that earns high marks for meat, produce and service, and clearly operates in a different realm from lower-price retailers like Aldi, Costco and Trader Joe’s.  
In normal times, Wegmans would appear to be an obvious contender for the top spot. We notice, however, that this CR survey was based on 32,599 respondents about their shopping experiences at supermarkets, supercenters or warehouse clubs during the period between April 2007 and April 2008. The period in question ended a year ago, and shoppers have adopted vastly new economic priorities since then.
 
Therefore, we raise our question: Would CR’s ‘Best Supermarkets’ ratings wind up the same way if shoppers were surveyed today? Would more price-oriented chains score higher? Might more shoppers today think ‘indulgence’ rather than ‘nice service’ in much of what Wegmans brings to market?
 
Kudos to CR for spotlighting supermarkets with periodic surveys (their latest was in 2005), and for showing shoppers some ways to avoid spending traps set by stores. We do feel the timing lag between fielding the survey and reporting it resulted in figures that might well be outdated in today’s context. Supermarkets operate in a ‘just in time’ world, more households are doing the same, and CR ought to consider it too when presenting topical research like this on which consumers’ minds are clearly in turmoil.