Costco, H-E-B, Publix see customer satisfaction spikes in new annual study

More than 60% of retailers measured see improvement in the latest cross-industry customer satisfaction study. Walmart is top in pharmacy.
Nigel F. Maynard
Editorial Director
Nigel
customer-service-study
customer-service-study

According to the 2024 Retail and Consumer Shipping Study 2023-2024 the overall customer satisfaction for retailers surged 4% to a score of 78.0 (out of 100), with Costco, H-E-B and Publix seeing improvements.

Released on Jan. 30 by The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the yearly study that tracks customer satisfaction across a variety of industries, said that more than 60% of retailers measured saw their individual ACSI scores improve in 2024.

“As seen across other sectors of the economy, issues stemming from the pandemic, including supply disruptions and uneven service quality, are dissipating,” said Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ACSI. “For industries like supermarkets and gas stations, moderating inflation is helping to improve the value proposition. And leading up to the holiday season, consumers looking to stretch their dollars responded positively to discounters and retailers that excelled in sales and promotions or pumped more value into the experience through private label offerings.”

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Among online retailers, Chewy (down 1%), Amazon (down 1%), Costco (up 3%), eBay (up 7%), and HP Store (up 7%) lead the pack, while Walgreens saw a substantial 7% satisfaction increase.

Customer satisfaction with general merchandise retailers also climbed (3%), with Macy’s (up 4%) and Costco (unchanged). “Costco’s Kirkland Signature is considered ‘cool’ and has become one of the main reasons people go to the store these days,” the study said. “There are even TikTok and Instagram accounts dedicated to identifying the best of these products.”

Like its wholesale counterpart (Costco), Sam’s Club also saw a pull toward its private label. Member’s Mark now accounts for 30% of its total sales, the study said. BJ’s Wholesale Club was unchanged, while Walmart (up 4%) and Dollar General (up 3%) finished at the bottom despite moderate year-over-year gains.

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Satisfaction among supermarkets skyrocketed 4% to an ACSI score of 79 as food inflation slows and consumers perceive stronger value through better sales and promotions. Costco (up 4%), H-E-B (up 5%), and Publix (up 4%) share a three-way tie atop the industry at 85, upending Trader Joe’s multi-year winning streak. The former leader is next with a steady ACSI score of 84.

“Publix sets the standard across much of the in-store experience, including staff courtesy and store cleanliness and layout, while Costco and H-E-B win on value. All three benefit greatly from the popularity of their private label brands,” the report said.

Sam’s Club (Walmart), just off the leaders, climbs 5% to 83, while Meijer and ShopRite experience the biggest gains, each improving 7% to 80. Meanwhile, Walmart, despite improving 4%, finishes last with an ACSI score of 74.

Unlike its performance among general merchandise retailers or supermarkets, Walmart shines in the drugstore industry, the ACSI said. The company’s pharmacy business surged 11%, putting the retail giant in first place along with the smaller drugstores (up 3%) at 82. “Walmart’s satisfaction gain is supported by industry-leading value and strong ratings for key factors like merchandise variety and pharmacy services,” the report said.

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There is little differentiation in customer satisfaction among standalone chains Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS, with scores nearly stable compared to a year ago. Rite Aid improved 1% to 76, Walgreens was unchanged at 75 and CVS dipped 1% to 74.

The ACSI Retail and Consumer Shipping Study 2023-2024 is based on interviews with 40,264 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email from January 2023 to December 2023. This study scores six retail industries—online retailers, general merchandise retailers, specialty retailers, drugstores, supermarkets and gas stations.

For all customer satisfaction scores, download the full study.

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