Trader Joes ranks first as nation's best grocery store

If you do the grocery shopping in your family you probably have a go-to supermarket.

About 6,600 shoppers in the U.S. and Canada were asked to name their favorite supermarket, and how likely they would be to recommend it to a friend.

Overall, people are pretty happy with where they shop, but like cream, a few stores rose to the top.

Trader Joe's took the top spot. Trader Joe's ranked first for atmosphere, quick checkout, and private label brands. It ranked second for cleanliness and natural or organic choices.

Publix -- a chain that's not in this area -- and Whole Foods were close behind in the ratings.

All three earned high marks for courteous staff, inviting atmosphere, and high quality produce.

The survey, conducted by Market Force Information, was designed to find out why people prefer one chain over another.

The number one factor is convenient location, then low price, good sales, and promotions. But that doesn't tell the whole story, because we all expect that from a store.

To stand out from the crowd, a supermarket chain must do more. People want fast check-outs, friendly staff and cleanliness, as well as good private label brands and high-quality meat and produce.

Because many grocery chains are regional, market force broke out its results into four U.S. regions and Canada. Shoppers were asked where they spent the majority of their grocery dollars during the past 30 days.

The favorites in the west were Safeway, Kroger - which owns Fred Meyer and QFC - and Costco.

Because Wal-Mart dominates the country, it was omitted from the regional analysis.

Costco rated second nationwide for high-quality meat. And for our neighbors up north, Loblaws was by far and away the favorite in Canada.

The survey also asked shoppers what they don't like when they go to the supermarket. Long waits at checkout and not being able to find the products they want ranked up top.

For more information:
America's favorite supermarkets - how'd yours rate?

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or visit The ConsumerMan website.