Clark Howard: The best of the grocery store chains

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A new tally of supermarkets names a Northeastern regional chain as the best grocery store in the nation.

Consumer Reports has crunched the data and found Wegmans to be the top pick. For those who are not familiar with Wegmans, this is a store that has been consistently adored through the years by people who shop there.

In second place, we have a two-way tie between Publix, the Florida-based regional grocer, and Trader Joe’s, the national alternative grocer that started in California and has spread across the country. The latter is a real crowd pleaser and distinguishes itself by doing natural and organic food for less money than a competitor like Whole Foods.

In fourth place, we have another tie between Fareway and Market Basket. The Top 10 is rounded out by Costco, Raley’s, Sprouts, Fresh Market and Stater Bros.

The one entry I found noteworthy was Kroger. Now, stock analysts are always thrilled with how Kroger runs its business. But the nation’s second-largest grocer (behind Wal-Mart) always seems to show up firmly in the middle of the pack, and that’s true again with this latest tally. In six important criteria, Kroger rated just average. They’re not making people happy or unhappy! But this is an industry where you really need to wow the customer.

Ratings are based on 63,000 responses to the Consumer Reports’ 2014 Supermarket Survey, reflecting 111,000 shopping trips between March 2013 and July 2014.

Who is not doing a good job? There’s a three-way tie between A&P, Waldbaum’s, and Wal-Mart for worst place to buy groceries in America. What people don’t like about all three is the produce, meats and the bakery.

Related stories:

The best supermarkets in Atlanta

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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