Let’s Play Supermarket Matchmaker: Is ShopRite, Publix, ALDI, or Walmart Right for You?

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Do you think all supermarkets are basically the same? The results of a new survey show differently. If you’ve been shopping around for a new grocery store, the numbers may provide insight as to which chain is the perfect match for you.

The survey, from Market Force Information, asked shoppers to rate various grocery stores—ALDI, Costco, Giant Food, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, ShopRite, and Walmart—and explain why they favored (or avoided) one chain over another. The top answer for what shoppers most like about their supermarket is “convenient location.” That’s hardly an endorsement, now is it? But at least survey participants were honest.

The next most popular reason for preferring one supermarket is “low prices,” followed by “good sales and promotions,” which are basically the same thing, then on to “cleanliness” and “variety of merchandise and selection.”

If you assume all supermarkets are pretty much the same, take a close look at the survey’s grocer attribute graph. The graph pinpoints where different supermarkets rate in terms of a variety of categories, including “fast checkout,” “low prices,” “inviting atmosphere,” and “variety of merchandise.”

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By examining this graph, you’ll get a good sense of each store’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses—which should give you a good sense of whether the store sounds like it’s a good fit for your needs. Here are examples of how four of the supermarkets rate:

ALDI: Gets highest rating of all supermarkets for low prices, the same results as last year. On the other hand, it scores the lowest of all in terms of “one-stop shopping,” “variety of merchandise,” “natural/organic choices,” and “inviting atmosphere,” and is also quite low for “high-quality produce” and “high-quality meat.” Basically, if low cost is your top priority, ALDI is for you—but you get what you pay for.
Giant Food: The survey names Giant Food and ShopRite as the overall favorites among consumers, with Giant slightly ahead. Neither of these chains stands out in a major way from the field, however, as both get middle-of-the-road ratings in most categories. They don’t do anything particularly badly, but they don’t blow away the competition in any way either. Basically, these stores offer solid value and decent selection and customer service.
Publix: Shoppers like many things about Publix, including the chain’s inviting atmosphere, courteous staff, quality produce and cleanliness. While Publix got the highest ratings in all of these categories, it’s bottom of the barrel in the area of “low prices.” (In other words, prices are high.) Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as a superior product usually comes with a higher price tag. Basically, Publix offers a fancy, higher-end shopping experience, and shoppers pay for it.

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Walmart: Also not surprising is that Walmart snags the highest scores in the “one-stop shopping” category. The other stores focus on food, while Walmart supercenters sell food as well as bikes, toys, clothing, garden supplies, TVs, and more. Walmart darn well better blow out the competition on this front. On the other hand, Walmart gets the lowest scores of all in the categories of high-quality meat and produce, fast checkout, cleanliness, good sales and promotions, and, perhaps worst of all, courteous staff. Basically, if you’re a Walmart person, then you shop at Walmart and there’s not much need to go elsewhere.
Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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