When It Comes To National Grocery Store Chains, This One Stands Above The Rest

The way you take the question of supermarket chain dominance will do a lot to determine how you answer. For example, people who highly value brand devotion will say that obviously Trader Joe's or Aldi has won newfound respect and influence within the grocery store industry. However, despite their largely favorable coverage and hordes of vocally devoted customers, neither holds a stranglehold on the industry. That honor still belongs to Walmart.

In July, 24/7 Wall Street released a report showing that Walmart notched the highest sales figures for the second year running in 2020, reaching $433.90 billion in the traditional grocery industry and the digital one combined, with more than $250 billion coming from traditional supermarket sales. Amazon, which doesn't split those figures, made $236.28 billion. Kroger, which came in third, reported $132.50 billion. Walmart also topped the FoodIndustry.com list of grocery chains for 2020, followed by Kroger and Costco.

Part of Walmart's dominance is the success it had combining its in-store practices with delivery and online ordering. In 2019, The Motley Fool reported on Walmart's sudden decision for pickup orders and a growing delivery service, a pivot that paid off for the company during the first year of the pandemic. In October 2020, Supermarket News reported that Walmart was already leading the industry with small steps like providing clear signage for pickup areas and ensuring all stores had parking spaces for curbside pickup. So yeah, Walmart's dominant.

But few shoppers actually like Walmart

The strange if not surprising thing about Walmart's dominance is that very few people seem to like it. You don't have people offering the same cultish enthusiasm for Walmart as you do for Aldi. This is despite the fact that The Balance credited Walmart with being the largest seller of organic products in 2019.

Of course, the public knows about Walmart's reluctance to pay their workers a living wage. Even when CNN covered one wage increase in February, the massive raise was only for about half the company and was only done in order to not be bested by Amazon. That is probably one reason why The Axios-Harris Poll for company reputations placed Walmart at 83 out of 100. For context, the Fox Corporation and the Trump Corporation got 99th and 100th respectively while Nestle with their child slavery headlines made it to 22nd. Moreover, when Eat This covered the most favored grocery store of each state, Walmart unsurprisingly appeared nowhere.

No one really likes Walmart, but they love their prices. In their research, Consumer Reports discovered that 74 percent of Walmart shoppers had some complaint or another, making it the most complained about supermarket in their research. However, it ranked well for competitive prices. That is the balance Walmart maintains. You do not order from Walmart because you have some connection to the brand. Rather, Walmart is cheap and, like Amazon, efficient at getting you your goods. That's why it maintains its crown.