PUBLIX TOPS WITH SHOPPERS: ACSI

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Publix Super Markets and stores operated by Supervalu are providing customers with the most satisfaction, while Safeway and Kroger provide less satisfaction, according to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index published by the University of Michigan Business School here.for the fourth quarter of last year.The ACSI measures levels of consumer satisfaction for goods and

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Publix Super Markets and stores operated by Supervalu are providing customers with the most satisfaction, while Safeway and Kroger provide less satisfaction, according to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index published by the University of Michigan Business School here.

for the fourth quarter of last year.

The ACSI measures levels of consumer satisfaction for goods and services in retail, finance/insurance and e-commerce.

In the report's supermarket category, which measured satisfaction levels at six of the nation's largest chains, Publix "has consistently been the category leader," with a score of 82, up 1.2% from a year ago, while Supervalu-owned corporate stores ranked second, with 77 points.

Albertsons and Winn-Dixie tied for third with a satisfaction score of 73, unchanged from the previous year, while both Kroger and Safeway experienced "large drops," the report noted, ending up tied for last with scores of 71. Kroger fell 5% from its 2002 score of 75, and Safeway dropped 7% from its score of 75, the report said.

"Both [Kroger and Safeway] have faced labor problems and strikes. They have also had to deal with various product recalls. Consumers report significant reductions in the quality of service received, but there is no evidence in the ACSI data that customer loyalty has suffered as a result," Claes Fornell, the Donald C. Cook professor of business administration and director of the National Quality Research Center at the Michigan Business School, said about the rankings.

Among specialty retailers, Costco rose 1% on the satisfaction index to lead all other companies with a score of 80.

The index score in the "all others" category, which included Meijer, discount retailers and upscale department stores, rose 7% to 78.