JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nothing is as big a turn-off as a dingy grocery with stained floors, free-floating crumbs, and sticky puddles underfoot. It's enough to make you abandon your cart and run.
So it's no surprise that if there's one feature that the best supermarkets and groceries in the U.S. share, it's cleanliness: bright lighting, shiny floors, gleaming glass and counters, and well-tended displays.
Cleanliness, in fact, is a common element among all of the top-rated groceries in Consumer Reports' recent nationwide member survey of grocery stores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs.
The six grocers that landed in the top rating tier for overall satisfaction got high marks for cleanliness. They include regional brands Texas-based Central Market; the mid-Atlantic's Wegmans; Heinen’s, in Ohio and the Chicago area; Southern California-based Gelson’s Markets; and the Northeast's Market Basket—as well as Trader Joe’s, Consumer Reports' highest-rated national chain.
Supermarkets that gleam
"Cleanliness has a large impact on your overall opinion of your grocery store, our results show," says Jane Manweiler, a CR survey research associate.
In addition to those top six stores, 17 markets that placed high—but not tops—in CR's ratings nonetheless excelled for cleanliness. In ratings order, they are:
• New Seasons Market
• Military Commissary
• The Fresh Market
• Festival Foods (Wi.)
• Lunds & Bylerlys
• Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
• Natural Grocers
• Lowes Foods (NC, SC, VA)
• Haggen Northwest Fresh
• Roche Bros.
Stores placing among the lowest overall in the ratings—including the national brand Walmart Supercenter and Eastern retailers Tops and Key Food—had disappointing orange chevrons for cleanliness, suggesting that CR members found them lacking on that count.
Ohio-based Marc's, a discount drugstore and grocery chain, also got an orange chevron for cleanliness—the second-to-lowest score. But it rated middling overall, perhaps due to its superior pricing. (In that category, the store received a dark green chevron, the highest available score.)
To arrive at these results (and more), CR researchers collected survey responses from more than 75,000 Consumer Reports members, who rated the one or two supermarkets they go to most often. In all, members reported on more than 140,000 visits to grocers, which enabled CR to rate 96 groceries nationwide.
Read more on Consumer Reports' website.