Most popular grocery stores in America

Written by:
September 6, 2020

Most popular grocery stores in America

Grocery shopping is serious business in America, where the average household in America spends more than 10% of its income on food.

Some grocery stores are iconic like New York’s Fairway shops with their brimming olive and cheese selections or the two-step dance parties at Texas’ Central Markets. Others celebrate their humble beginnings, like the Hannaford and Jewel-Osco markets that began with goods sold from horse-drawn carts.

Many are preferred by customers for their no-frills approach like Cub Foods and Food 4 Less, where shoppers bag their own groceries. Stores like Wild Oats Market nurture loyalty with a rebate policy for members, based on how much they purchase, or like Casey’s convenience stores that met customer needs during the coronavirus outbreak by expanding delivery services at more than half its stores in 16 states.

Some favorites have not survived, like A&P stores, while others have changed the way people shop. Piggly Wiggly pioneered the first self-service grocery stores, and Trader Joe’s has made shopping fun with its eccentric décor and cheerful staff.

Today the coronavirus has everyone rethinking the way they buy their groceries altogether—from visiting stores and handling products to remote ordering and contactless deliveries.

Stacker determined the most popular grocery stores in America by consulting consumer ratings from polling source YouGov, released in February 2020. YouGov ratings are based on national polling and weighted to equitably represent different demographics, such as age and gender; read more about their methodology here.

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Kit Leong // Shutterstock

#40. 99 Ranch Market

- Popularity rating: 14%
- Fame rating: 27% (rank: #40)

In 1984, 99 Ranch Market opened its first store in Westminster, California, an Orange County town known as Little Saigon. Family-owned, it is now the largest Asian supermarket chain in the country, with more than 50 stores, mostly in California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Texas, but also in New Jersey.

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JJBers // Flickr

#39. Shaw’s

- Popularity rating: 15%
- Fame rating: 29% (rank: #39)

New England-based Shaw’s was founded in 1860 and is one of the longest continuously operated chains in the country. The first store opened in Portland, Maine, and the chain now has 150 stores in New England. It is owned by Albertsons Inc., which went public in June.

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Roman Tiraspolsky // Shutterstock

#38. Fairway

- Popularity rating: 15%
- Fame rating: 31% (rank: #37)

Fairway started out as a fruit and vegetable stand in Manhattan in the 1930s and expanded throughout the New York City metropolitan area. It was known for its extensive selections of cheeses, olives, and coffee. But the company ran into financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2020. It has sold its brand name and five New York City stores, including its flagship store on Broadway, to Village Super Market, which operates ShopRite supermarkets. One store it is liquidating is the Upper Manhattan location, known for a walk-in chilled meat section where customers donned jackets provided by the store.

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David Tonelson // Shutterstock

#37. BevMo!

- Popularity rating: 16%
- Fame rating: 31% (rank: #36)

BevMo! is a West Coast beverage retailer with more than 160 stores in California, Washington, and Arizona, and an extensive online business as well. Founded in 1994 in the San Francisco Bay area, it was originally Beverages and More! The stores are big, with wide aisles and enormous selections.

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Tony Webster // Flickr

#36. Cub Foods

- Popularity rating: 16%
- Fame rating: 35% (rank: #34)

The name of Cub Foods, a Midwestern supermarket chain, originally stood for Consumers United for Buying. It is known for no-frills shopping, where customers often bag their own groceries.

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Lizardflms // Shutterstock

#35. Central Market

- Popularity rating: 16%
- Fame rating: 31% (rank: #38)

First opening in Austin in 1994, Central Market stores are known for their vast selections and in-house dining. They also have live music and Texas two-step dance parties.

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Portland Press Herald // Getty Images

#34. Hannaford

- Popularity rating: 16%
- Fame rating: 33% (rank: #35)

Hannaford supermarkets started out in 1883 in Portland, Maine, where the Hannaford brothers sold fresh produce from a horse-drawn cart. The company expanded to more than 180 stores in New England as well as in New York and in the Southeast. It was acquired in 2000 by Belgium’s Delhaize Group, now called Ahold Delhaize.

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Matthew Rutledge // Flickr

#33. Pathmark

- Popularity rating: 17%
- Fame rating: 38% (rank: #33)

Pathmark was a well-known grocery presence in the Northeast beginning in the 1970s. Its reign ended in 2015 with the bankruptcy and liquidation of its parent company, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which operated hundreds of stores including A&P, Food Emporium, and Waldbaum’s. The Pathmark brand and name was obtained by Allegiance Retail Services, and it relaunched with the reopening in 2019 of a longtime Pathmark location in Brooklyn which features a variety of ethnic and Caribbean products.

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Eric Glenn // Shutterstock

#32. Giant Eagle

- Popularity rating: 19%
- Fame rating: 38% (rank: #32)

Five families started Giant Eagle in the 1930s and built a supermarket chain, which also includes OK Grocery Food Stores located in and around Pittsburgh. It opened Iggle Video rental locations in its stores in the 1980s and more recently expanded into full-service dining at its newest Market District stores. Recently, the chain has been targeted in lawsuits filed over its policy that requires all Pennsylvania staff and customers to cover their faces to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The cases claim the policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and that people with medical conditions should be allowed to go mask-free. The company and health experts have said the lawsuits are baseless.

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Sorbis // Shutterstock

#31. Jewel-Osco

- Popularity rating: 19%
- Fame rating: 39% (rank: #29)

The Midwest’s Jewel-Osco stores originated in 1899 with two brothers-in-law selling coffee and tea door-to-door from a horse-drawn wagon. The Jewel Tea Co. expanded to acquire grocery stores in the Chicago area and started a mail-order catalog business as well. It bought Osco Drugs in the 1960s. Now owned by Albertsons Inc., Jewel-Osco has more than 180 stores in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana.

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John Greim // Getty Images

#30. Harris Teeter

- Popularity rating: 20%
- Fame rating: 40% (rank: #28)

Grocers W.T. Harris and Willis Teeter founded Harris Teeter in 1960 in North Carolina. Today it is a subsidiary of The Kroger Co., with more than 230 stores and 14 fuel centers in the Southeast. The stores have been criticized for refusing to require face masks during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting some employees to quit. Online petitions have been circulated that ask stores to comply with the North Carolina governor’s order to wear masks.

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MediaNews Group/Boulder Daily Camera // Getty Images

#29. Wild Oats

- Popularity rating: 20%
- Fame rating: 40% (rank: #25)

Wild Oats Market is a member-owned cooperative grocery in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It started out as a buying club in 1975 and opened its store in 1982 with 100 members. It has a policy of returning its surplus revenue to member-owners, who get annual rebates based on how much they purchased throughout the year.

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Moab Republic // Shutterstock

#28. H-E-B

- Popularity rating: 20%
- Fame rating: 40% (rank: #26)

Florence Butt opened the first C.C. Butt store in 1905 in Kerrville, Texas, and her son Howard E. Butt opened a second store in 1926. The first store under the name H-E-B opened in San Antonio in 1942. In the 1950s, the company expanded into supermarkets, consolidating butchers, fish markets, bakeries, and pharmacies into its stores, and in 1997 it expanded into northern Mexico with its first store in Monterrey.

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Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#27. Casey's General Store

- Popularity rating: 21%
- Fame rating: 38% (rank: #31)

Casey’s has more than 2,000 convenience stores in the Midwest. Founder Don Lamberti opened his first convenience store in Boone, Iowa, in 1968, naming it with the initials of a friend Kurvin C. Fish. Lamberti opted to move into small communities, and to this day more than half the stores are located in places with populations of fewer than 5,000. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, Casey’s expanded delivery services at more than half its stores in 16 states.

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Country Gate Productions // Shutterstock

#26. Giant

- Popularity rating: 21%
- Fame rating: 40% (rank: #27)

Giant stores are located in Delaware, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland, where the headquarters are in Landover. The first store opened in Washington in 1936. The company’s founders were Nehemiah Myer Cohen, an immigrant from Palestine, and his partners Samuel and Jacob Lehrman. In the 1970s, the company implemented computer-aided checkout and price scanners in its stores.

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Tada Images // Shutterstock

#25. WinCo Foods

- Popularity rating: 21%
- Fame rating: 39% (rank: #30)

Stretching through the Northwest and West, WinCo Foods has more than 125 stores, the newest in Billings and Helena, Montana. The chain started in 1967 in Boise, Idaho, with a warehouse-style grocery called Waremart. In its supermarkets in the 1970s, customers used red grease pencils to write the prices on their items. Company employees bought a controlling share of the company in 1985. The name is short for Winning Company.

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Thaiview // Shutterstock

#24. Shop ’n Save

- Popularity rating: 23%
- Fame rating: 50% (rank: #21)

More than 90 Shop ’n Save stores are independently owned and operated in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, and New York. Its Midwestern stores were liquidated by parent company SuperValu in 2018 after it was unable to find buyers.

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Juan Llauro // Shutterstock

#23. Food 4 Less

- Popularity rating: 24%
- Fame rating: 46% (rank: #24)

Food 4 Less is a subsidiary of The Kroger Co. It has 129 warehouse-style supermarkets in California, Illinois, and Indiana. Customers bag their own groceries, which the company says is a way to keep costs down.

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WoodysPhotos // Shutterstock

#22. Stop & Shop

- Popularity rating: 24%
- Fame rating: 48% (rank: #23)

Located in New England and the Northeast, Stop & Shop traces its roots to the Rabinovitz family, who opened their Economy Grocery Store in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1914. The company’s early stores were pioneers in self-service, and its name became Stop & Shop in 1947. Today its parent company is Ahold Delhaize, based in the Netherlands.

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John Arehart // Shutterstock

#21. ShopRite

- Popularity rating: 25%
- Fame rating: 50% (rank: #20)

ShopRite is a retailer-owned cooperative of stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland. The cooperative, Wakefern Food Corp., dates back to 1946 when a group of grocers organized to buy products collectively in large quantities to get better prices. Today Wakefern, consisting of more than 40 grocers that run about 190 supermarkets in the region, is the nation’s largest retailer-owned cooperative.


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David McNew // Getty Images

#20. Fresh & Easy

- Popularity rating: 25%
- Fame rating: 48% (rank: #22)

Fresh & Easy stores were an effort by British retail giant Tesco to break into the U.S. market, launching in 2007 in several Western states. Fresh & Easy went into bankruptcy protection in 2013, when dozens of its stores were sold off to Yucaipa Cos. Fresh & Easy went into bankruptcy protection again in 2015, and the stores closed.

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B Brown // Shutterstock

#19. A&P

- Popularity rating: 26%
- Fame rating: 57% (rank: #17)

Founded in New York City in 1859, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. opened its first store in 1912. Decades later, with almost 16,000 stores, it was the world’s largest retail grocery company. Its popular brands included Jane Parker baked goods and Eight O’Clock Coffee. But industry analysts said the grocery giant was slow to respond to a changing market and changing tastes and began to look outdated as it was outpaced by competitors. A&P filed for bankruptcy a second and final time in 2015.


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JHVEPhoto // Shutterstock

#18. Wegmans

- Popularity rating: 26%
- Fame rating: 51% (rank: #18)

Privately owned Wegmans has more than 100 supermarkets in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other New England and mid-Atlantic states. The stores are known for being huge and laid out like outdoor markets. The Wegman family started the company in 1916 in upstate New York with the Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Co.

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Hunter Bliss Images // Shutterstock

#17. Food Lion

- Popularity rating: 29%
- Fame rating: 64% (rank: #13)

Food Lion is located in 10 mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. It began in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1957, and has grown to more than 1,000 grocery stores. Food Lion was at the center of a landmark legal case in the 1990s when two ABC News producers submitted false job applications and were hired at its stores in North and South Carolina. They secretly filmed practices in the meat departments, and ABC’s “PrimeTime Live” broadcast a segment claiming Food Lion’s meat handling was filthy and unsafe. Food Lion sued ABC successfully on grounds that the filming was illegal, but a federal appeals court determined that Food Lion had not been harmed and dismissed most of the damages.

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Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#16. Meijer

- Popularity rating: 29%
- Fame rating: 59% (rank: #15)

Family-owned Meijer has more than 200 stores in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. In the 1960s, it developed the concept of supercenter stores with not only groceries, but auto supplies, clothing, home goods, and banking services.

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ArliftAtoz2205 // Shutterstock

#15. IGA

- Popularity rating: 30%
- Fame rating: 62% (rank: #14)

The Independent Grocers Alliance, or IGA, is an international network of supermarkets first organized in 1926 by family owned groceries that grouped together to become more competitive in their purchasing and marketing but keep their local identities. It has more than 1,100 stores in nearly all U.S. states and about 5,000 in more than 30 other countries. Benefits to IGA members, typically located in small towns, are volume buying and advertising, and the alliance makes some 2,300 private-label IGA brand products.

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Todd A. Merport // Shutterstock

#14. Sprouts Farmers Market

- Popularity rating: 31%
- Fame rating: 51% (rank: #19)

The first Sprouts opened in Chandler, Arizona, in 2002 with a focus on fresh and organic products, and the company grew quickly. It went public in 2013 and started opening stores in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and Northwest. It now has more than 340 stores in 22 states.

One facet of Sprouts’ style is its smaller displays of produce, a change from traditional markets where huge displays entail excess ordering, an over-handling of the goods by customers, and higher rates of spoilage. Sprouts has announced plans to open about 20 new stores this year.


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Kondor83 // Shutterstock

#13. Fresh Market

- Popularity rating: 34%
- Fame rating: 58% (rank: #16)

Following a trip to Europe, Ray and Beverly Berry, the founders of Fresh Market, sought to replicate the feel of an open food market with specialized products and service, a butcher, and flower stands, rather than the more common U.S. style warehouse-style supermarkets. They opened their first store in Greensboro, North Carolina in, 1982, and today Fresh Market has some 159 stores in 22 states. The company went private in 2016 with its purchase by Apollo Global Management, LLC.

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Andriy Blokhin // Shutterstock

#12. Save-A-Lot

- Popularity rating: 36%
- Fame rating: 68% (rank: #12)

Save-A-Lot is a franchise-style grocery chain with more than 1,300 stores. It was founded with the opening of its first store in Cahokia, Illinois, in 1977, using what is known as a hard discount model. A hard-discount store typically sells a small array of products in a small venue, with low staffing and often in low-income areas. The product choices are limited to the most commonly purchased goods and its own brands. The stores target low- and fixed-income consumers who need ready access to grocery shopping in less affluent neighborhoods.

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Virginia Retail // Flickr

#11. Piggly Wiggly

- Popularity rating: 38%
- Fame rating: 78% (rank: #8)

Piggly Wiggly started out in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee, where it was the nation’s first self-service grocery store, cutting costs by replacing the traditional model of clerks who would fetch goods from shelves for customers. The format was franchised to grocery store operators, largely in the Southeast, and today more than 530 Piggly Wigglys are located in 17 states. The company says the origin of its unusual name is unknown. According to one story, founder Clarence Saunders said he chose the name for the very reason that people would ask about it.

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Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#10. Winn-Dixie

- Popularity rating: 38%
- Fame rating: 81% (rank: #7)

The original Winn-Dixie founders started out with a grocery store in 1913 in Idaho before moving to the Southeast, where they opened a store in 1925 in Miami. The company bought up dozens of stores in the region and became Winn-Dixie in 1955. It ran into financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005. Today about 500 Winn-Dixie stores can be found throughout the Southeast—in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida.

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Lisa Aiken // Shutterstock

#9. Albertsons

- Popularity rating: 39%
- Fame rating: 72% (rank: #11)

According to the company, in 1939, Joe Albertson scraped together his savings and a loan from his wife’s Aunt Bertie to open the first Albertsons store in Boise, Idaho. The grocery giant, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in June, operates in 34 states with the store brands of Albertsons, Acme, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Carrs, and more.

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Felix Mizioznikov // Shutterstock

#8. Publix

- Popularity rating: 40%
- Fame rating: 73% (rank: #10)

Publix has more than 1,200 stores, mostly in Florida, Georgia, and throughout other Southeastern states. Founder George Jenkins started out as a stock clerk and then a manager at Piggly Wiggly before opening his own store in Winter Haven, Florida, in 1930.

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VDB Photos // Shutterstock

#7. Amazon Fresh

- Popularity rating: 42%
- Fame rating: 78% (rank: #9)

Amazon Fresh is the grocery delivery service started in 2007 by the online giant. Customers order online, and deliveries are scheduled in two-hour windows. Contact-free delivery of packages left unattended at the customer’s door has been developed during the coronavirus pandemic. It has only been offering limited availability to new customers as it grappled with enormous demand from at-home shoppers in recent months.

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Michael Vi // Shutterstock

#6. Safeway

- Popularity rating: 43%
- Fame rating: 82% (rank: #6)

The grocery giant started out in 1915 in American Falls, Idaho, and by 1928 Safeway was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2014, Albertsons Inc. bought Safeway in a $9.4 billion deal. There are now about 900 Safeway locations in 17 states and Washington D.C.

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Alastair Wallace // Shutterstock

#5. Whole Foods Market

- Popularity rating: 54%
- Fame rating: 93% (rank: #2)

The first Whole Foods Market opened in Austin, Texas, in 1980. Now, 40 years later, it has more than 500 stores specializing in natural and organic products. In 2017, Amazon bought Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion cash deal. Under Amazon’s ownership, some prices dropped, but research last year found Whole Foods had the highest grocery chain prices in eight U.S. metropolitan areas.

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Eric Glenn // Shutterstock

#4. Aldi

- Popularity rating: 57%
- Fame rating: 85% (rank: #5)

More than 1,900 Aldi stores are located in 36 U.S. states. Nearly all—more than 90%—of the products they sell are Aldi brands, a system that is designed to lower prices with its lower procurement costs. Aldi charges a 25-cent deposit for use of its grocery carts so that customers will return them to the cart corral.

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Kevin Chen Images // Shutterstock

#3. Kroger

- Popularity rating: 57%
- Fame rating: 93% (rank: #3)

With annual sales of more than $121 billion and almost 2,800 stores, Kroger is a retail grocery giant. The first Kroger store, which opened in 1883 in Cincinnati, pioneered baking its own bread and making some of its own products. In the 1970s, the grocery retailer pioneered use of electronic scanners.

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Sorbis // Shutterstock

#2. 7-Eleven

- Popularity rating: 59%
- Fame rating: 98% (rank: #1)

The first convenience store, 7-Eleven, started in 1927 with the sale of food from the dock of an icehouse in Dallas. By 1946, the store locations were named 7-Eleven for being open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 7-Elevens were the first stores to add fuel pumps, self-service soda vending machines, and ATMs. Today there are some 60,000 7-Elevens around the world. Due to the pandemic, this year marked the first time the store failed to celebrate July 11—7/11—by offering free Slurpees to customers, a tradition it started in 2002. Instead it said it donated a million meals to a charity to feed the hungry.

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Tada Images // Shutterstock

#1. Trader Joe’s

- Popularity rating: 61%
- Fame rating: 93% (rank: #4)

Trader Joe’s is known for its low-cost private label products, which started when it introduced its own granola in 1972. It added Charles Shaw wines in 2002 that earned the nickname “Two Buck Chuck.” The 500-plus stores have a built a reputation for affordable prices and cheerful service.

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