Publix earned the highest rating for customer satisfaction and loyalty among grocers in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for 2011. The index surveys 20,000 customers and ranks 225 companies across 47 different industries.
Publix, which received a score of 84 on the ACSI's 100-point index, topped the list of 12 major grocery stores. The Lakeland, Florida-based store has topped the list of since 1995.
Whole Foods Market, an upscale grocery chain that offers organic products, took second place with a customer satisfaction score of 80. Walmart, on the other hand, dropped 3 percentage points in the supermarket category. Sinking down to 69 points, the retail giant came in last amongst grocers.
David VanAmburg, managing director of the ACSI, suggested that as the economy recovers and consumers have more spending money, they might become more concerned about factors other than price, such as store cleanliness, quality of produce and checkout lines, according to MSNBC. For that reason, they might be turning away from stores like Walmart in favor of pricier options like Whole Foods.
"The good news is that customer satisfaction continues to climb, which has a positive effect on consumer demand and growth," said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder.