Supermarkets Fare Poorly in Mystery Shopper Study

FAIRFAX, Va. — A national customer experience study conducted by BARE International found that two out of every three supermarkets mystery shoppers visited were “mediocre” or worse.

BARE, a global customer experience measurement firm, randomly selected 26 U.S. supermarkets — some units of large chains and others locally owned — for evaluation in February.

"Our goal was to conduct a benchmarking study so we could give our [grocery store] clients guidance on how their stores ranked vis-à-vis their competitors in particular and the industry overall," said BARE President Michael L. Bare. "The results surprised us."

BARE’s mystery shoppers inspected five departments in each supermarket: deli, bakery, meat, produce and prepared foods. They additionally rated other experience factors such as customer service, store cleanliness, and the appearance and conduct of staff.

Anything less than a 90-percent score indicated a mediocre consumer experience. Sixty-two percent of the facilities visited scored under 90 percent, with 53 percent earning a score of 85 percent or lower, and 19 percent scoring under 75 percent.

"The fact that nearly 20 percent of all the participants scored below 75 percent is shocking, especially so because many of those in the bottom 20 percent are part of large, well-known chains," noted Bare. "This shows us that the typical supermarket experience is not one that excites or even pleases consumers."

Fairfax-based BARE International has nine offices across North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

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