In a reshaped grocery landscape, H-E-B is again America's favorite grocery store, regaining its pre-pandemic position. Costco comes in second, and Amazon falls to third in Dunnhumby's new Retailer Preference Index.
Wegmans remains in fourth place.
The shake-up comes as people are focused more intently on food costs, with price now the top consumer need in every income bracket, even with product quality. Price is even No. 1 among 53% of those making more than $200,000. And the ability to get personalized prices, use promotions and earn rewards matter more, becoming three times more important than in 2019.
Other top-10 grocers, ranked on overall customer preference, are Sam's Club, which is owned by Walmart; Market Basket, Amazon Fresh (ranked separately from Amazon); Trader Joe's, Winco and BJ's Wholesale.
BJ's Wholesale has been the index's biggest mover in the last three years, rising from No. 27to No. 10.
Target, Aldi, Shoprite and Walmart are in the top 15.
The ranking is one of the industry's most comprehensive and closely watched by retailers. This is the sixth annual survey, based on 10,000 American grocery shoppers' thoughts on the 59 largest grocery chains in the U.S. It also considers data from an additional 20,000 consumers, ranking five drivers of value proposition: price, promotions, and rewards; speed and convenience; quality; digital; and operations.
Over the six annual surveys -- with three of those years marked by pandemic shopping disruptions that significantly accelerated ecommerce -- there have been major shifts in both the rankings and the ways people buy food.
During the pandemic years, the percentage of those buying groceries online rose 11 points, from 39% to 50%.
That translates to an increase of 9.4 million more omnichannel households than there were in 2019, with a combined annual grocery budget of $4.9 billion.
In 2020 and 2021, Amazon vaulted into the No. 1 spot. This year, H-E-B's return to the top signals its strength in providing more savings and a better-quality experience.
Dunnhumby, which tracks customer data and loyalty, says the shift also indicates that digital is no longer enough. While Amazon is still superior in digital shopping, all other online retailers are closing in. Customers say 52% of companies in the top quartile of the index give them an easy way to shop, as compared to 13% in 2019.