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This Is America's #1 Grocery Chain Amid Inflation, New Study Shows

Attractive prices and consistently well-stocked shelves have landed the brand in the top spot with customers.

Inflation continues to soar with no signs of stopping. Just last month Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell warned Americans there would be "pain" in the near financial future, and the Federal Reserve is set to announce yet another interest rate hike shortly.

In simpler terms, Americans all over the country are feeling the budgetary crunch and finding it harder to make ends meet. It's easy to cut back on non-essentials like electronics or going out for dinner, but it isn't that simple when it comes to grocery shopping.

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There are endless grocery store brands out there that claim to offer consumers the best possible deals and "bang for their buck," but which grocer reigns supreme in the age of inflation?

A new special inflation edition of the Retailer Preference Index (RPI) put together by leading customer data science firm dunnhumby compared and ranked 69 grocers to determine the "top grocery retailer for inflationary times," and New England's Market Basket took the coveted top spot.

market basket exterior
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Operating 90 grocery locations across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire, Market Basket landed in the #1 spot by virtue of two main strengths: consistently attractive prices and a reputation for dependability.

According to dunnhumby, the comprehensive, nationwide analysis focused on identifying "grocers best positioned to gain share during times of economic uncertainty and, perhaps more importantly, build emotional connection with shoppers for the future."

The inflation RPI ranked grocers across a variety of categories considered important to shoppers, such as "save me money" and "save me time." Market Basket ranked number one in the "save me money" category. Moreover, Market Basket was the only grocer to rank within the top five for both "base price perception" and "mass promotions perceptions" (two sub-categories of the "save me money" section).

With inflation on shoppers' minds, saving money is clearly priority number one. The "save me money" section was deemed five times more important to current consumers than the next most important categories ("save me time," "make it better").

Market Basket also scored very high for dependability, which focused on grocers' capacity to keep shelves stocked and maintain steady price points.

"Market Basket has shown itself to be the best performing retailer in these times of economic uncertainty, by being the best in the country at saving customers money while simultaneously building stronger emotional connections with their shoppers and thereby increasing their shopper visits faster than most other retailers," said Grant Steadman, President of North America for dunnhumby, in a press release. "Retailers who are focusing their customer value proposition on saving customers money are best positioned to meet the challenges of this prolonged period of inflation and economic uncertainty."

The multinational discount grocer Aldi came in second, while the Idaho-based chain Winco rounded out the top three. The RPI rankings were based on responses from about 18,000 shoppers collected via two surveys. The first was conducted in October of 2021, and the second in May and June of 2022.

Surprisingly, the report also notes warehouse wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam's Club have seen a notable decline in year-over-year visits.

"The current club channel difficulties reflect misalignment with shoppers' behavior shifting toward spreading their spending out over more visits with smaller baskets. Additionally, lower-income shoppers are more likely to shift toward smaller pack sizes during inflationary times," the report's press release explained.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John