2019 supermarket survey: Aldi, Coles, Woolworths, IGA and more


Our supermarket survey reveals your best and worst supermarkets for 2019.

Are you satisfied with your supermarket?


Between them, Coles and Woolworths have almost 62% of Australia's grocery market. When it comes to sheer numbers of stores and geographical spread, it's hard for other supermarket chains to compete. But the duopoly can't be complacent.

According to our latest supermarket survey, more than half (54%) of respondents see little difference between Coles and Woolies. 

And while most of you rate them highly for their convenient locations, many people shop for their groceries at multiple chains – 42% of our survey respondents said they use three or more. 

Obviously there's more to attracting and keeping customers than simply having lots of stores. You need to provide a positive shopping experience too. 

So which supermarket chains have the most satisfied customers? 

We asked more than 2800 supermarket shoppers to tell us what they really think of their supermarket, so we can tell you which are the best – and the worst.

In this article:

Which is your favourite supermarket?

Here's how Australian supermarkets rank for overall customer satisfaction in 2019, from best to worst:

Overall customer satisfaction ranking in 2019:

  • Foodland (overall score 82%) 
  • Harris Farm Markets (81%) 
  • Costco (76%) 
  • Aldi (74%) 
  • IGA/Supa IGA (73%) 
  • FoodWorks (71%) 
  • Woolworths (69%)
  • Coles (67%) 

SA-based Foodland (82%) is your favourite supermarket, closely followed by NSW-based Harris Farm Markets (81%). 

These chains received the highest overall scores for supermarket satisfaction, and also rated higher than their competitors on various criteria including range of products and brands available and availability of locally produced food products. 

  • Foodland gets a significantly higher rating than all of its competitors for ease of locating items you want, ease of use of shopping trolleys/baskets, speed and ease of checkout, store appearance and layout and clarity of signage showing unit pricing. 
  • Harris Farm Markets is a clear winner when it comes to quality of fresh produce. 
  • If you're after value for money, shoppers rate Aldi highest – something we repeatedly find in our regular supermarket price survey – although Costco rates well for this too. 
  • Coles and Woolworths – while rating highly for their opening hours – rate lower than at least some of their competitors on all other aspects.

We've profiled each supermarket chain below.

For a more detailed comparison, including scores for all 8 supermarkets against 18 criteria, check out our full supermarket satisfaction review.

The best supermarkets

foodland

Overall score: 82%

Number of stores: >100 

Locations: SA, plus Broken Hill (NSW) and Jabiru (NT) 

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • overall score 
  • helpfulness of staff 
  • availability of locally produced food products 
  • ease of checkout 
  • range of products and brands available 
  • ease of use of shopping trolleys/baskets 
  • speed of checkout 
  • store appearance and layout 
  • ease of parking 
  • product availability 
  • availability of staff when you need assistance 
  • clarity of signage showing unit pricing 
  • ease of locating items you want 

Not so good for:

  • Nothing to mention
Harris Farm Markets

Overall score: 81%

Number of stores: 26

Locations: Sydney and NSW

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • quality of fresh produce
  • stock turnover
  • product availability
  • quality of supermarket's own brand products

Not so good for:

  • ease of parking

The rest

costco

Overall score: 76%

Number of stores: 11

Locations: NSW, ACT, Vic, SA, Qld

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • amount and availability of specials and discounts

Not so good for:

  • ease of locating items you want
  • store appearance and layout
  • opening hours
aldi

Overall score: 74%

Number of stores: >500

Locations: NSW, ACT, Vic, Qld, SA and WA

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • value for money

Not so good for:

  • availability of staff when you need assistance
  • range of products and brands available
  • ease of use of shopping trolleys / baskets
  • ease of checkout
  • helpfulness of staff
iga

Overall score: 73%

Number of stores: 1400

Locations: ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA

Survey standouts

Best for:

  • nothing to mention

Not so good for:

  • value for money
foodworks

Overall score: 71%

Number of stores: >370

Locations: ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • nothing to mention

Not so good for:

  • amount and availability of specials and discounts
  • quality of supermarket's own brand products
  • range of products and brands available
  • clarity of signage showing unit pricing
  • quality of fresh produce
  • stock turnover
  • product availability
Woolworths

Overall score: 69%

Number of stores: 995

Locations: ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • opening hours

Not so good for:

  • nothing to mention
coles

Overall score: 67%

Number of stores: 995

Locations: ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA

Survey standouts*

Best for:

  • opening hours

Not so good for:

  • overall score
  • availability of locally produced food products
  • speed of checkout
  • ease of checkout
  • quality of fresh produce
  • ease of parking
  • product availability
  • helpfulness of staff

Supermarket gripes

Overall satisfaction scores are generally positive across the board, but there are some aspects about shopping at supermarkets that have the ability to irritate or incense even the most seasoned shopper. 

We compiled a list of 16 common supermarket gripes – everything from poor accessibility (e.g. narrow aisles and checkouts, small signs) and confectionery near the checkouts to issues using self-service checkouts and difficulty finding a parking spot – and asked shoppers which, if any, from the list frustrates them about shopping in a supermarket. 

The top five frustrations of supermarket shoppers, according to our survey respondents, are: 

The top 5 frustrations of supermarket shoppers:

  • Too much packaging on products (54%) 
  • Lack of locally produced products (45%) 
  • Long wait at the checkout (43%) 
  • Products being unavailable/sold out (42%) 
  • Lack of staff member to provide assistance (37%)

Too much packaging 

For years, groups and individuals have been campaigning for supermarkets to stop excessive packaging on fresh produce, circulating images of individually shrink-wrapped cucumbers and single sweet potatoes sold on styrofoam cling-wrapped trays. 

After mounting pressure, last year both Coles and Woolworths publicly announced commitments to reduce levels of excessive packaging in their stores, particularly for fresh fruit and vegetables. 

But too much packaging came in as the number one gripe of shoppers, selected by more than half (54%) of our survey respondents, so clearly excessive packaging is still an issue. 

We asked people to select how they'd best describe what they think about the amount of packaging on fresh produce in their supermarket, from 'there's far too much', to 'there's an appropriate amount' through to ' I prefer a lot more' and some supermarkets appear to be doing better than others. 

More respondents told us they believe there's an appropriate amount of packaging on fresh produce in Harris Farm Markets, FoodWorks, IGA and Foodland than in Costco, Aldi, Coles and Woolworths.

Can you BYO plastic containers to supermarkets? Find out in our investigation.

Lack of locally produced products

Buying local is a priority for many shoppers, whether it be to reduce food miles, support local producers or for other reasons. And 45% of our survey respondents told us they were frustrated by the lack of locally produced products at their supermarkets. 

It shouldn't come as a surprise then that the two supermarkets with the highest overall scores for customer satisfaction – Foodland and Harris Farm Markets – both received significantly higher ratings than their competitors for availability of locally produced products.

Self checkouts

Self-service checkouts arguably increase the efficiency and speed of checkout and take up less space, and there are fewer employees to pay. 

Two-thirds of our survey respondents told us they use self checkouts, and when we asked them why, the top three reasons were because they usually have shorter (41%) and faster (37%) queues, and they can bag the items the way they want (25%). 

Frustration with self checkouts only ranked seventh overall for supermarket gripes – possibly in part because not all supermarkets have them, and even then not everyone uses them. But for those that do, one particular issue stands out. 

Seventy one percent of shoppers told us they've experienced bagging area errors. It's such a huge source of frustration for shoppers that the "unexpected item in bagging area" phrase emitted by the checkout machine when it happens has inspired countless memes, gifs and gags on social media, including this tweet which has been liked and retweeted thousands of times:

How we survey

We ask shoppers to rate the supermarket(s) where they shop against 18 different criteria (see below) on a 7-point scale ranging from 'excellent' to 'terrible', and then we convert these numbers to a percentage score. We also ask them to rate their overall shopping experience in their supermarket(s) and we report this as the overall score for customer satisfaction. The scores for individual criteria aren't incorporated in the overall score. Additionally we ask if they'd recommend their supermarket(s). 

We only include results for supermarket chains that have a minimum 50 completed surveys specific to that chain. We don't include responses from people who shop in-store in a supermarket less often than once a month. 

A total of 2886 Voice Your Choice members across Australia took part in this survey, which we conducted in February and March 2019.

We asked survey respondents to rate their supermarket for:

  • Range of products and brands available 
  • Availability of locally produced food products 
  • Quality of supermarket's own brand products 
  • Quality of fresh produce 
  • Value for money 
  • Amount and availability of specials and discounts 
  • Stock turnover (food products are within use by and best before dates) 
  • Product availability (shelves are stocked with items as labelled) 
  • Opening hours 
  • Ease of parking 
  • Ease of locating items you want 
  • Availability of staff when you need assistance 
  • Helpfulness of staff (e.g. checkout, refund/exchange, assistance) 
  • Ease of use of shopping trolleys/baskets 
  • Speed of checkout 
  • Ease of checkout 
  • Store appearance and layout 
  • Clarity of signage showing unit pricing (i.e. price of a product per 100g)

* Survey standouts These are attributes for which a supermarket received highest or lowest ratings as compared to other supermarkets. We identify survey standouts for each chain in the supermarket profiles.


Leave a comment

Display comments