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Culture / Foodie Events

The Best Grocery Stores in America Rankings Are Full Of Shockers

See Why Trader Joe’s and H-E-B Want a Recount

BY

America’s favorite grocery store has been revealed — and it’s probably going to surprise you. After all, no city may be more grocery-store crazed and competitive than Houston, but the No. 1 rated grocery store in the country does not have a location within 1,400 miles of the Bayou City.

That’s quite a commute to pick up eggs.

Indeed, Texas’ near cult-level favorite grocery store, H-E-B, comes in at a rather lackluster seventh in the new rankings. Right about now, H-E-B president Scott McClelland is prodding J.J. Watt to slam down some doors and demand a recount. It turns out that H-E-B is outdone by New York favorite Wegmans, which took the No. 1 overall spot for the first time with a 76 percent composite loyalty score in research giant Market Force’s yearly rankings.

Wegmans is known for its elaborate prepared food stations as much as anything on its shelves. When I was a dazed new dad in New Jersey years ago, another young father and I would head to Wegmans with our respective first kids in tow nearly every Friday night (hashtag wild times) and munch our way through all the food stations while the babies sat enraptured by all the colors and sounds of the massive store. There is no doubt that Wegmans puts on a good show. And in the hyper-competitive world of grocery stores, a little showmanship never hurts.

This year, it even helped topple longtime No. 1 Trader Joe’s. The eccentric grocery chain tumbled all the way from No. 1 to No. 3, falling behind not only Wegmans but also Publix Super Markets. That’s the grocery store equivalent of the Golden State Warriors somehow losing in the playoffs. Is Crunchy Cookie Butter losing its power?

At least Trader Joe’s is on the list. Whole Foods wasn’t even deemed worthy of being included, because it was not considered to be enough survey respondents’ “primary grocery store.” Instead, the Austin-built chain found itself categorized as a secondary grocery store, used more to shop for specific specialty items than regular purchases.

Wal-Mart may wish it hadn’t qualified for the rankings. The largest U.S. grocery chain by market share, Wal-Mart limped in with a less than 35 percent customer loyalty score, finishing dead last, at No. 15 overall. In categories like cashier courtesy (26 percent approval), Wal-Mart did even more poorly. Of course, if the Walton clan is crying, it’s doing so into beds of money.

Other notable grocery stores on the list include Houston stalwart Kroger (No. 8) and Germany’s Aldi (No. 5), a relatively new entry in the Bayou City market. But for now at least, Houstonians may have to pine for the No. 1 that is nowhere near.

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