14 Most Expensive Grocery Chains In The US

It's no secret the price of just about everything has skyrocketed over the past few years because of the pandemic, inflation, and other global factors. The one place Americans feel it the most is during routine trips to the grocery store. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average annual food-at-home prices increased by 11.4% from 2021 to 2022, with the greatest changes seen in eggs, fats and oils, and meat.

However, not everyone's top priority is to tighten their purse strings when grocery shopping. Some of the country's most luxurious and expensive supermarkets are not only surviving — they're thriving. From in-store smoothie bars to high-end butchers with exotic meats from around the world, these shops ensure their customers get what they pay for. We've compiled a list of some of the most expensive grocery stores in the United States for you to check out (or avoid, depending on your point of view). Keep reading to learn more.  

1. Erewhon Market

This stop on the luxury grocery store tour is a business that has made headlines on social media because of its popularity with celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Jake Gyllenhaal, Demi Lovato, Leonardo DiCaprio, G-Eazy, and more. The business is so well-known for attracting the Hollywood elite that paparazzi regularly camp outside stores hoping to catch the next big celeb coming to get their milk. That should be a good indication of Erewhon's prices — it takes Hollywood money to shop here regularly. Chris Black, the cofounder of Public Announcement, comments to Vanity Fair that a full cart at Erewhon is a status symbol — and it usually costs more than $1,000.

Although Erewhon's humble beginnings in 1966 started with a small stall, the store took off over the following years. It labeled itself "the first store of its kind in America" and sold organic and macrobiotic food in Boston, until moving to Los Angeles three years later. Today, with six more stores open in the bougiest areas of LA, Erewhon shares its mission: "At Erewhon, we believe that nutrition is the key to a radiant lifestyle. Through our markets, we endeavor to provide exceptional organic products that inspire good decision-making and healthier communities." 

Apparently, good decision-making isn't cheap. One probiotic smoothie could run you up to $30 with all the fixings. If you want a bottle of chocolate almond milk, that will be $9. Need some dental floss? One small pack will run you $10.

2. Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods? More like your "whole paycheck." Although this popular chain grocery store is one of the most expensive places to get your groceries, the brand is still wildly popular and has a huge share of loyal shoppers. According to The Grocery Store Guy, its groceries cost anywhere from 10 to 20% more than the typical grocery store. In fact, the store overcharges customers so much, it was slapped with an $800,000 fine for deliberately misleading them (via MarketWatch).

So why is Whole Foods so expensive? You can think of it as Starbucks. The company knows its target market is willing to pay more for ambiance, atmosphere, and top-notch customer service. At other stores, like Walmart, you'll typically find yourself in long lines with few employees to help you if you need it. At Whole Foods, you'll find a more luxurious, comfortable shopping experience thanks to several different specialty departments. 

Whole Foods is also very proud of its high standards when it comes to health, environmental impact, and animal welfare with the products that line its shelves. Several ingredients are banned from Whole Foods, including preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, and more. When it comes to meat and dairy, Whole Foods ensures there are no added growth hormones and no antibiotics used in the feed. 

Although it may cost an arm and a leg for your weekly groceries, there's a reason why Whole Foods commands such a loyal following.

3. Acme Markets

If you reside in the Mid-Atlantic, you've likely heard of the high prices at Acme Markets — one of the popular chains in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. According to Consumer Checkbook, Acme's groceries run about 12% higher than other grocery chains on average in 2022. Unfortunately, while the supermarket has some of the highest prices in the area, it reportedly has some of the lowest product quality. 

So why is Acme so expensive? Per its website, it's due to the high-quality products and friendly service. But studies show a different story. In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, Acme ranked as one of the lowest supermarkets in the country when it comes to factors such as quality and convenience. There's also more to the story.

First, Acme's employees are unionized, meaning they get superior benefits, higher pay, and better working conditions. Unfortunately, like most other unionized businesses, those extra costs get passed on to the consumer. Additionally, Acme's high prices may be related to the on-site pharmacy department, which tends to add significant costs to the store overall. 

While it may be admirable that Acme treats its employees well, the prices just aren't worth it when it comes to the quality of the groceries and service.

4. The Fresh Market

The Fresh Market is a specialty grocery store that prides itself on bringing the charm of a European-style open market right to the suburbs of America. First opened by Ray and Beverly Berry in the small town of Greensboro, North Carolina, the boutique grocery store strived to give customers a farmer's market atmosphere from the start. Initially, it included an in-store bakery, locally-grown produce floral stands, and a butcher shop. 

Today, The Fresh Market has expanded to more than 150 locations in 22 states. The second you walk into the establishment, you're greeted with classical music at all hours of the day, freshly cut flower arrangements, exotic cheeses, homemade croissants, and private-label products imported from around the world. It's clear that The Fresh Market wants you to feel like you're in a European farmer's market. As you make your way through the store, you'll pass a huge selection of olive oils, bins of dried fruit and nuts, and even an olive bar. If you're feeling extra, you can visit the self-grind nut butter station.

If you're the kind of shopper who daydreams wistfully about a trip to the countryside of Spain, this might be the perfect grocery store for you. Every visit to the store is like a vacation — on both your senses and your wallet. 

5. Harris Teeter

If you're based in Southeastern USA, you might be lucky enough to have a Harris Teeter nearby. It operates more than 250 storesacross eight states and is regularly labeled as one of the most popular supermarkets in the country. Although it might have a quirky name (it refers to a man named Harris and one named Teeter), it offers some of the best quality products and services you can find in a grocery store.

The company prides itself on its large selection of high-quality meats and seafood, a premium bakery and deli, and a floral section. It offers plenty of prepared foods too, including pizza, sushi, and a salad bar. If you venture further into the store, you'll find an enormous selection of wines and other alcohol. Heck, Harris Teeter even has a cute mascot called Harry the Happy Dragon.

Although the brand is wildly popular and is often referred to as a hidden gem only available in the South, it comes with a hefty price tag. Adam Wood, the co-founder of Revenue Geeks, stated, "Harris Teeter is the second most costly grocery store in the United States," (per GOBankingRates). 

6. Wegmans

If you venture to the Northeast of the country, you're sure to stumble upon one of the 110 Wegmans stores. It is in fact one of the biggest private companies in the United States and brings in annual sales of about $12 billion. Although its prices are high, people love Wegmans. The store prides itself on giving customers an amazing shopping experience by providing top quality, gourmet prepared foods, an amazing ambiance, and the best customer service possible. 

When you enter Wegmans, it's almost like walking into an attractive and well-maintained microcosm. As you journey through, you'll find several "stores," like a pizzeria, deli, bakery, French patisserie, caterer, butcher, cheese shop, sushi counter, pharmacy, florist, coffee shop, restaurants — and of course groceries. Its cheese shop boasts around 300 types, and the massive olive bar makes it easy to pick up the fixings for a tasty snack. 

Wegmans also features a large foreign section, meaning you'll be able to find niche treats from across the ocean. If you're looking for a particular type of flower, in-house florists are ready to make the arrangement of your dreams. It also features DIY nut butter machines to obtain optimal consistency.

According to a study by Engagement Labs, Wegmans was ranked as the second most-loved brand offline in 2017 — second only to Disney World. Seems like most of Wegmans customers would argue the price tag is worth it. 

7. Publix

If you venture over to Florida, you'll find the largest employee-owned company in the United States: Publix. The store was founded in 1930 by George W. Jenkins and now has more than 1,200 supermarkets throughout the South. The grocery store has won several awards, including ranking 4th on Forbes' Halo 100 List in 2022, which recognizes companies that deliver top-notch customer experiences. 

It's true — the second you walk into a Publix supermarket, you'll notice the associates are incredibly helpful and the products are of great quality. According to Maria Brous, the Publix Director of Communications, the company's spot on Forbes' list is a "reflection of our associates' dedication to treating our customers like royalty." However, it's not all good.

Publix is also well-known for charging significantly more for its groceries than other stores. Although prices are spiking everywhere because of inflation, Publix charges more than double that of other places in Florida for eggs, and 50% more for milk (via The Moguldom Nation). Shoppers have taken to social media to vent their outrage about the prices, like YouTuber Adventures with Danno. He's quick to praise Publix's customer service, but notes the prices are "through the roof."

Is good customer service really worth paying double for eggs? That's for you to decide.

8. Giant Eagle

Giant Eagle is a business that was formed by five families in 1936. Even through the hardships of World War II and the Great Depression, the company grew steadily. Today, it boasts over 450 stores and is one of the more powerful grocers in the Midwest. 

Giant Eagle has long been known as one of the most innovative grocery stores around. It was one of the first to computerize its buying systems, stay open for 24 hours at a time, and establish "from scratch" baked goods. Giant Eagle even earned a spot on Progressive Grocer's list of "Top 10 Regional Operators to Watch" in 2022 for novelties like its mobile app and extensive pharmaceutical library. However, shopping at the store comes with a hefty price tag. It boasts impressive features like wine and beer tastings, restaurant-quality prepared foods, and a huge selection of products. 

When lined up with other grocery stores in the area, the store typically comes out on top for the highest prices, so buyers beware. 

9. Gelson's

When the words "luxury grocery store" are uttered, one of the first places that come to mind for a Southern Californian is Gelson's. Almost all of its 27 locations are located in upper-class neighborhoods and offer an upgraded shopping experience. The inside of the store has a sleek modern design, wide aisles, and lots of elements you won't find in your typical grocery store. This includes pressed juice bar kiosks, a build-your-own-pizza station by Wolfgang Puck, a coffee bar, and a bakery featuring Parisian cakes, cookies, and pastries. Gelson's even has its own brand of CBD-infused beauty products. 

But it wouldn't be luxurious Southern California livin' without emptying your wallet. Although the store is popular with its customers (scoring an 87 out of 100 for customer satisfaction), it received the lowest possible score for price competitiveness (via GOBankingRates). For example, the average gallon of milk costs about $4.10 as of March 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the same milk will cost you over $7 at Gelson's. 

You might want to shop there for specialty items but go elsewhere for ordinary staples.

10. PCC Community Markets

In 1953, 15 families in Seattle got together and formed a food-buying club to exchange fresh, local produce. Today, PCC Community Markets has evolved into the largest consumer-owned food co-op in the United States with more than 58,000 members. Since its inception, the business makes fresh, seasonal, local, and sustainable produce its top priority. PCC also provides world-class meat, seafood, dairy products, wine and beer, and deli products. It even hosts cooking classes with notable food icons, like cookbook authors, professional chefs, and local restaurateurs. 

When you walk through PCC, you'll be greeted with fresh, colorful produce — and all of it is local or organic. Seasonal mushrooms like chanterelles make an appearance — but be prepared to pay a hefty price for them. You'll find very vivid descriptions on every product tag so you know exactly what you're getting. PCC takes it to the next level by labeling cheeses with descriptions of the exact types of milk and enzymes used to prepare them (as well as wine pairing recommendations). 

Of course, none of that good stuff comes for free. According to one Redditor, "PCC is easily the most expensive market in Seattle." 

11. H-E-B

If you're an American hailing from Texas, you probably wouldn't think H-E-B would show up on our list of the most expensive grocery stores, but don't be fooled. From its start as a small, family-owned store in Kerrville, it has transformed into more than 420 stores employing over 145,000 people. Aside from a huge selection of organic and specialty products and Tex-Mex cuisine, H-E-B has become a cult favorite for several reasons. 

The store has some of the best customer service around, with employees handing out free samples like freshly baked tortillas to snack on as you browse interesting products like hatch chile cookies. Saying the employees are satisfied is an understatement — it was ranked 20th overall as one of Glassdoor's 2018 Best Places to Work. 

Although it's not the most expensive place on our list, you will definitely need to keep track of the specialty products you add to your shopping cart.

12. Randalls

Like many other stores on this list, Randalls evolved from humble beginnings when founder Robert Onstead started delivering groceries in Texas. Early in his grocery-related career, he was taught one thing: "Treat your customers the way you treat your family." With a bit of elbow grease and marketing flair, Onstead developed a powerful grocery store, with locations in 35 states across America. 

Going through a Randalls grocery store, you'll find many amenities, including a florist, pharmacy, coffee shop, bakery, delicatessen, bank, gourmet counter, and more. However, you'll also find a much higher price tag to go with your groceries. According to Money Inc., the average cost of a bill at Randalls in 2023 is around $112, making it one of the most expensive grocery stores in America. One Redditor argues that shopping at Randalls definitely isn't worth it, noting that the store charges "50% more on most items than Kroger/HEB." Thread comments note that most of Randalls' customers are elderly folks that have been shopping there for more than 30 years. 

Unfortunately, the prices keep getting higher as quality has dropped ever since the company was bought out.

13. Natural Grocers

As America moves towards healthier diets, trending stores are bound to pop up to take advantage of this shift. Enter Natural Grocers. This grocery store was founded by Margaret and Philip Isely after Margaret fell ill after having their second child. When conventional medicine wasn't cutting it, she made it her mission to prioritizing nutritious, natural foods. They soon became focused on the benefits of healthy foods, eventually building a grocery store stocking only the best quality products. If you can believe it, they started the humble business with a $200 loan from the owner's mother. 

Today, the business only sells top natural and organic foods and is transparent about items it refuses to sell, explaining its reasoning for every single ingredient. Interestingly enough, you won't find any meat, dairy, or bakery counters here either. The store claims its customers' health and well-being are its top priorities, meaning it only sells 100% organic, non-GMO produce as well as hormone-free meats. 

It's always admirable to find a business that holds such a high standard for its products. That being said, be prepared to leave with a lighter wallet. 

14. Dean & DeLuca

"Nice but extremely expensive" is the first description you'll read if you scour some reviews for Dean & DeLuca. When Dean & DeLuca was created in 1977, it sold the idea of extravagance through upscale grocery stores. Founders Joel Dean, Jack Ceglic, and Giorgio DeLuca were the epitome of "cool," as one of their first employees told Salon. They created a store where only the finest foods, exciting ingredients, and foodie staples were sold. 

During the store's posh reign, it was featured in several movies and pop culture references, including scenes in "American Psycho" and "Will & Grace." In just about every instance, its priciness is noted, such as in "The Devil Wears Prada," when actor Adrian Grenier's character states, "They charge, like, five dollars a strawberry there."

For over 40 years, it attracted big spenders with its curated baked goods and fancy olive oils. However, in March 2017, it closed multiple stores throughout New York and California, and today, only a few stores remain. According to The New York Times, several of the locations were deeply in debt and eventually succumbed to it. 

Although Dean & DeLuca isn't the cultural icon it once was, it will forever have a place in America's heart as one of the most expensive grocery stores of all time.