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Best & worst supermarkets

More than 24,000 shoppers rate 52 chains and share their top gripes

Consumer Reports magazine: May 2012

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One-third of subscribers we surveyed in our 2011 Annual Questionnaire said they had given the heave-ho to a nearby grocery store. Forty-three percent fired a grocer in search of lower prices; about 25 percent cited poor selection, long lines, or lousy food; 17 percent blamed employee rudeness; 14 percent, the crowds.

Some shoppers may be more discriminating than in the past because they know they have more options, they are exposed to more types of stores selling food, and they're more sensitive about experiences that may fall short of their expectations.

Of the 24,203 readers who told us about 42,695 supermarket experiences, more than half had at least one complaint about their current store; almost a third cited two or more. Even high-rated chains such as Raley's (in the West) and Wegmans (mid-Atlantic) gave plenty of readers something to criticize.

The biggest gripe overall: Not enough open checkouts, followed by congested or cluttered aisles and advertised specials that were out of stock. Other irritants included inept bagging, missing prices, and scanner overcharges. Over the years, our supermarket Ratings have been very consistent. This is the third straight survey in which the same three grocers have been at the top and the same three near the bottom. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org to get all the details.

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