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H-E-B one of top grocers in U.S.

H-E-B, which has stores in Texas and Mexico, rated third in the nation in consumer popularity. Courtesy photo

Texas-based H-E-B has been named one of the top grocery store chains in the United States, according to a recent poll by Market Force Information. H-E-B ranked No. 3 under Publix and Wegmans, which tied for first, and Trader Joe’s, which came in second. Of the top stores, only H-E-B and Trader Joe’s have locations in Texas.

National chains with local stores that rated included Costco, which came in sixth, and Walmart, which was last on the list at No. 15.

H-E-B received its highest ratings from shoppers for item availability, ease of finding items and service in its speciality departments.

The study was conducted with more than 12,700 shoppers, who gave H-E-B a score of 69 percent. Publix and Wegmans each received a 77 percent rating, while Trader Joe’s ranked with 76 percent. The stores were ranked by value customers received for their money, cashier courtesy, fast checkouts, availability of items, ease of finding items, speciality department service and store cleanliness.

In another part of the survey, shoppers showed a preference for organic and locally produced items. Half said they prefer organic, while 58 percent said they preferred locally sourced meat, produce and dairy.

Meal kit delivery services are gaining in popularity, according to the survey. More than 150 companies now provide the service, which delivers the ingredients and a recipe directly to the home for preparation. That number should be dropping soon as the market weeds out the weakest providers. Nearly half of the people who tried a meal kit delivery service were less than satisfied with the experience. Most stopped ordering after a trial run.

Another new trend is to order groceries online with home delivery. This is particularly popular with the younger generation, commonly referred to as millennials. The use of click-and-collect has more than doubled since last year, and 78 percent of those who tried it were satisfied with the experience. Walmart is the most popular store for online home delivery.

Despite the online popularity, printed circulars delivered by mail or through local newspapers are still popular, and people are using them more than ever. In fact, 82 percent of shoppers use them at least weekly, a significant jump from 2016, when just 48 percent used them that often. Nearly one-quarter of consumers shop at a specific grocer because of their direct mail promotions.

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