ANN ARBOR, MICH. — While much of the retail sector anticipates a turnaround in 2021, customer satisfaction is not heading in the right direction. Overall, the retail sector declined 2.3% to a score of 75.5 (out of 100), according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Retail and Consumer Shipping Report 2020-2021. 

“2020 sent waves of disruption across the retail sector,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “From mandatory closures that halted in-person shopping to stock shortages caused by panic buying, retailers experienced anything but business as usual. Deliveries from online retailers were delayed, and customers were frustrated when high-demand items sold out. And it shows, as 86% of the retailers measured suffer downturns in customer satisfaction year over year.” 

The report covers six retail industries — department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, health and personal care stores, supermarkets, internet retail, and gas stations — as well as consumer shipping and the US Postal Service.  

After four years of near-stable customer satisfaction, the supermarket industry declined 2.6% to 76, with 17 of 20 major grocers posting lower scores year over year. 

Trader Joe’s tops the supermarket industry – and the entire retail sector – with a stable score of 84. Four companies tie for second place with scores of 82: Costco (down 1%), H-E-B (down 2%), Publix (down 1%), and Wegmans (down 2%). 

The remaining top-tier performer from 2019, Aldi, slipped 4% to tie with Sam’s Club at 80. 

At the low end of the industry, a group of big decliners are further behind the industry average than they were in 2019. Southeastern Grocers slid down 4% to 73, while Giant Eagle plummeted 5% to 72. 

Albertsons Companies also showed a steep ACSI drop, losing 5% to 71, tying for last place with Walmart, which declined 3%. 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index Retail and Consumer Shipping Report 2020-2021 is based on interviews with 70,767 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between January 13, 2020, and December 27, 2020. Download the full report here