After two years of declining customer satisfaction, retailers have rebounded and begun to win their customers over again, according to figures provided by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Measured on a 100-point scale, the retail trade is up 4.7 percent to a score of 78.3, an all-time high for the sector. All retail categories improved year over year, while online retail continued to dominate.
In the supermarket channel, retailers improved customer satisfaction by 6.8 percent to achieve a score 78, aided by falling food prices, higher quality and better service. Trader Joe's rose to the top, up 4 percent to 86. Publix increased 2 percent to 84, followed by Aldi, H-E-B and Wegmans at 83.
Whole Foods Market climbed 11 percent to 81, ahead of Hy-Vee, Kroger and ShopRite (all 79). Meijer, up 5 percent, matched Target, which gained 10 percent, at 78, followed by Bi-Lo, up 4 percent to 77. The recently merged Ahold Delhaize posted an ACSI score of 76 to tie with Supervalu. Albertsons followed at 75, well below its score in the drug store category (see below). Walmart and Giant Eagle were each up 10 percent, but remained in a tie for last place at 74.
Customer satisfaction with drug stores rose 6.8 percent to 78. Kmart pharmacy led at 84, in part because many customers who were less than satisfied have left. Albertsons Cos., which includes Safeway, came in second place, at 83; the merged company hit its stride in 2016 with a 20-percent gain. Kroger was stable at 81, while Target was the only pharmacy to fall, down 1 percent to just above the average at 79. Rite Aid improved 13 percent to 78, while CVS, Walgreens and Walmart rounded out the low end at 76.
Internet retail led the retail sector, with an ACSI score of 83, up 3.8 percent from a year ago. Amazon continued to hold first place, advancing 4 percent to 86 amid a strong holiday season.
A national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States, developed by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the ACSI covers six retail industries: department and discount stores, gas stations, drug stores, specialty retail stores, supermarkets and online retail. The current report, based on 12,515 customer surveys collected in the fourth quarter of 2016, is available for free download.