The concept of the grocery store was developed in the early 1900s. Today, grocery stores have grown into large chains of regional stores, offering consumers a wide variety of fresh food, non-perishables and household items produced by many different brands.
Convenience is a main focus for grocery store chains today. Many stores now provide specialty services including in-store pharmacies, banks and on-site gas stations. Technology is also playing a big role in making grocery shopping more convenient for consumers. From online shopping to no checkout lines, grocery shopping is becoming less time-consuming for customers.
Top 10 Best Rated Grocery Stores
Founded in 1946 and headquartered in Essen, Germany, Aldi provides consumers with discounted groceries across 18 countries and over 10,000 stores. Specializing in staple items, it has become a popular, worldwide supermarket.
|Read 51 Reviews|
Trader Joe’s was started in 1958 under the name Pronto Markets. Its name changed to Trader Joe’s in 1967. Today, it provides consumers across the United States with bulk and specialty groceries.
|Read 252 Reviews|
Headquartered in Lakeland, Florida, Publix was founded in 1930 and provides consumers in the Southeastern United States with supermarket services. Today, they continue to expand and have over 1,000 stores in operation.
|Read 262 Reviews|
Founded in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger now operates more than 2,700 stores in 35 states nationwide. In addition to supermarkets, Kroger runs 38 food manufacturing facilities that make a wide range of products.
|Read 523 Reviews|
Headquartered in Gates, New York, Wegmans operates over 90 supermarkets in the New England region of the United States. It is a privately owned company and has been in business for 100 years.
|Read 83 Reviews|
Safeway got it’s start in 1926 when it merged with M.B. Skaggs. In 2015, Safeway merged with AB Acquisition LLC and now operates over 2,200 stores across 33 states and Washington D.C.
|Read 397 Reviews|
ShopRite, along with Wakefern Food Corp., is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States. Today, the cooperative has 50 members who individually own and run stores under the ShopRite name.
|Read 174 Reviews|
Meijer got its start in 1934 and is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Today, it is considered a supercenter or hypermarket chain that services the midwest and employs over 72,000 people in the United States.
|Read 142 Reviews|
Under the name Economy Grocery, Stop & Shop opened its first store in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1914. Today, it has over 400 grocery stores across the New England region of the United States.
|Read 162 Reviews|
Price Chopper opened its first grocery store in New York in 1922. Today, it is one of the nation's largest, privately held companies and operates over 130 stores across the Northeastern United States.
|Read 13 Reviews|
What do people look for in a grocery stores?
What products do grocery stores offer?
Possibly the most noticeable aspect of a supermarket is the product selection. Which brands the store carries, the type of food available and how much will depend on the store size and who each particular chain uses as a distributor. Larger chains might own their own distribution network, allowing for cheaper distribution costs, and therefore cheaper costs for the consumer.
- Non-perishables: Supermarkets stock non-perishable items in bulk. Items such as canned goods and boxed goods will have long shelf lives, meaning they won’t spoil unless their package is opened.
- Perishables: Perishable food includes meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables and cooked foods. Stores will need to have large refrigerators and freezers to store perishable items for an extended period of time.
- Organic: Many supermarkets have sections of their stores dedicated to organic and naturally produced foods including fresh produce, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and natural dairy products. Some stores have their own organic brand and source locally-grown produce.
- Brands: Different supermarket chains will carry different brands. Many consumers stay loyal to a particular brand of food, whether it be a name brand or generic brand.
What kind of specialty services do grocery stores provide?
Many medium- to large-sized supermarket chains now provide consumers with specialty services such as in-store pharmacies, banks and on-site gas stations.
- Pharmacies: Pharmacies in supermarkets are a fast-growing trend that continues to see growth each year. Pharmacists like to practice in supermarkets because of the professional services stores offer patients. Some in-store pharmacies are starting to expand to deal with specialty patients with complex healthcare needs like diseases requiring multiple pharmacy visits.
- Banks: Many supermarket chains have in-store bank branches where consumers can take care of any banking errands while grocery shopping. Banks and supermarkets consider in-store branches a win-win situation; consumers save time, banks have a steady stream of customers and the supermarket gets another source of guaranteed income from the bank’s rent payment.
- Gas stations: Some larger supermarket chains offer on-site gas stations. These gas stations compete with traditional gas stations, so location and price are the main deciding factors in how well they perform. Many supermarkets provide consumers with loyalty programs offering discounts and cheaper fuel costs.
How are grocery stores using technology?
Companies are developing new ways to make shopping for groceries less time consuming and more of a convenience for consumers. Through mobile apps and online shopping platforms, supermarkets are streamlining the supermarket experience and making grocery shopping more convenient.
- Online shopping: Many supermarkets are offering online shopping as a time-saving, convenient way for consumers to buy groceries. People can browse deals online, place orders at any time and choose a convenient delivery time and location, all without leaving their homes.
- Mobile apps: Some supermarkets have mobile apps designed to enhance the in-store experience and make shopping easier for consumers. Independent app developers make store-specific apps that work in multiple store chains. Some of these app features include maps of store layouts and barcode scanners that allow customers to total their items as they shop.
- Management alerts: A few large supermarkets are looking into management alerts that let store managers know when more registers need to be opened. A system using infrared sensors counts the number of customers coming and going, as well as how many customers are in line waiting to checkout using infrared sensors.
- Automatic checkouts: Automatic checkout systems are currently being tested to do away with checkout lines completely. The process involves tagging grocery items with radio tags that are read as a customer leaves the store. The bill is paid by the consumer’s credit card on their smartphone.
How do grocery stores price their products?
The goal of any supermarket is to keep prices low for the consumer while staying competitive and maintaining consistent profitability. Some of the main pricing strategies used by supermarkets are leader pricing, everyday low pricing and zone pricing.
- Leader pricing: Sometimes supermarkets will sell high-demand items at abnormally low prices, often taking a loss on that item. The goal is to attract bargain shoppers who will buy the product simply because it is on sale, leading them to buy other products in the store. Leader pricing is used on a limited basis.
- Everyday low pricing: Everyday low pricing is a strategy that involves keeping prices on high-demand items permanently low. Stores implement this strategy so that consumers won’t mistrust advertising or think there is a hidden catch with certain prices. It has the same underlying theory as leader pricing in that, once consumers are in the store for the lower priced products, they will continue to buy products that offer a higher profit margin.
- Zone pricing: Large supermarkets collect data on customers buying habits and use it to construct pricing profiles for different stores in various regions. For example, customers in high-income regions might be willing to pay more money for certain products than in other regions.
What are the different types of grocery stores?
Small scale grocery stores
Small-scale supermarkets carry perishable food items such as canned, bottled and boxed goods. Most small-scale grocers will have a section of the store where they provide fresh produce, meat and baked goods.
Large scale grocery stores
Large scale supermarkets not only offer a wide variety of perishable and fresh foods, but also they provide consumers with household products such as kitchenware, cleaning products, furniture and pet supplies. Many larger supermarkets will have in-store specialty services like pharmacies, banks or cafes. These all-inclusive stores can sometimes be referred to as hypermarkets.
Health food grocery stores
Health food specific grocery stores focus on selling organic foods including fresh produce, meat, dairy and baked goods. Many times, health food grocery stores will source from local suppliers or use their own brand of organic food.
Online grocery stores
A growing number of stores are offering online grocery shopping. Aside from being able to shop from anywhere with an internet connection, benefits of online grocery shopping include flexible delivery options, easy returns and daily deals.
Who shops at grocery stores?
Individuals shop at neighborhood grocery stores for non-perishable foods, fresh produce and fresh foods such as meat, dairy and baked goods.
Small and large families shop at supermarkets so they can buy things in bulk. Most supermarkets carry enough variation in their products so families can treat them as a one-stop shop for their food and specialty service needs.
Health food shoppers
Many supermarkets today are carrying healthier options such as organic, natural foods and locally grown produce.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
11 – 27 Best Rated Grocery Stores
Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, Robert Ingle opened the first Ingles grocery store in 1963. Today, it provides consumers at over 200 locations with brand name products as well as their Laura Lynch brand products.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Food 4 Less was started in 1977 and is currently owned by Kroger. It operates stores primarily in California, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio with various franchises across the United States.
|Read 26 Reviews|
Fry’s Food was founded in Contra Costa, California in 1954. Today, it is headquartered in Arizona and owned by The Kroger Co. It provides consumers with grocery services and specialty services such as pharmacies and liquor.
|Read 11 Reviews|
Giant Foods got its start in 1936 as Washington, D.C.’s first supermarket. Today, it operates stores in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
|Read 151 Reviews|
The first Albertsons grocery store was opened in Boise, Idaho in 1939. Through mergers and acquisitions, Albertsons has grown to operate over 2,200 stores making it the second largest supermarket chain in the United States.
|Read 57 Reviews|
Acme was established in 1891 in Philadelphia. Today, it is owned by Albertsons, and it is headquartered in East Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania. It operates approximately 180 stores across the Northeastern United States.
|Read 27 Reviews|
Food Lion was founded in 1957 in Salisbury North Carolina and was acquired by the Belgium grocery company, Delhaize Group in 1974. Today, they operate over 1,000 stores in 10 states across the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic region.
|Read 67 Reviews|
Founded in 1936, Harris Teeter is a Charlotte, North Carolina-based grocery store chain. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Harris Teeter is now owned by The Kroger Co. and operates stores across the Mid-Atlantic.
|Read 40 Reviews|
The first Ralph’s grocery store was opened in 1911. Through a series of mergers it is now part of the Kroger family of supermarket chains, servicing Southern California with groceries, pharmacies and gas stations.
|Read 117 Reviews|
Winn-Dixie got its start in 1925 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. It is a subsidiary of Southeastern Grocers and has around 520 grocery stores, 145 liquor stores, and 393 in-store pharmacies across the South.
|Read 151 Reviews|
Bravo operates in over 70 locations in the Northeastern and the Southeastern United States. It provides consumers with Krasdale, Equaline and Wild Harvest brands.
|Read 28 Reviews|
Founded in Austin, Texas, the original Whole Foods Market opened in 1980. Today, through many acquisitions, Whole Foods is a natural foods industry leader, reaching consumers worldwide.
|Read 237 Reviews|
C-Town is an independently owned supermarket that was founded in 1975. Currently, it operates around 200 stores, selling popular brands and in-house brands across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
|Read 48 Reviews|
Vons is an Albertsons owned supermarket chain, founded in 1906. Along with groceries, Vons provides shoppers with in-store full-service banks, pharmacies and dry cleaners.
|Read 88 Reviews|
Founded in 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri, Schnucks operates grocery stores throughout the Midwest. Today, Schnucks remains a family-run business and has grown to run over 90 grocery stores offering in-store specialty services.
|Read 17 Reviews|
Founded in 1937, Key Foods is headquartered in Staten Island, New York City, New York. It is a cooperative of independently owned stores. It acquired the A&P family of stores making it the largest grocery store chain in New York.
|Read 45 Reviews|
Fine Fare Supermarkets are a group of independently owned grocery stores. It focuses on providing consumers with a broad range of ethnic foods. Today, it operates over 60 stores across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
|Read 40 Reviews|