Canstar Blue’s 2020 supermarket review has compared ALDI, Foodland, Woolworths, Coles and IGA on product freshness, quality of private label products, variety of products, store layout, customer service, special deals available, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Australia’s biggest supermarkets have moved away from simply fighting it out over the lowest prices, with an increasing focus being placed on ‘value’ and the overall customer experience – not to mention miniature toys for every $30 you spend on groceries! Coles and Woolworths have made their respective “Down Down” and “Cheap Cheap” slogans far less prominent in recent years, while ALDI continues to differentiate itself on price, but at the same time promotes its products as being ‘good different’.
‘Good’ is certainly the supermarket buzzword of the day, but which chain really has the happiest shoppers at a time when quality is just as important as cost in the eyes of many Aussies? Competitive prices remain a big factor in determining where Australians shop. But consumers can also see the benefit of paying a little extra for quality when it comes to their favourite products in particular. Of course, the added bonus of mini collectables also helps get us spending a little more!
In Canstar Blue’s latest supermarket review, we asked more than 2,600 shoppers about their experiences of buying groceries from a retail supermarket in the last month. They rated supermarkets on product freshness, quality of private label products, variety of products, store layout, customer service, special deals available, value for money and overall satisfaction. Supermarket chains which received the minimum sample size of 30 responses are featured in our results.
This year, ALDI stocked up its seventh win in nine years. It rated best for the freshness of its fruit, vegetables and meat, the quality of private label products, store layout, deals and specials available, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Here are the best supermarkets in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2020 review:
ALDI keeps its title as a top shelf supermarket, after becoming the best-rated retailer for the third year in a row. Foodland has been the only chain to stop ALDI’s winning streak in the nine years, having taken over the top spot in 2013 and 2017.
Our latest ratings show ALDI was the only supermarket to receive five stars for overall satisfaction, while Foodland achieved four stars. It’s worth mentioning that Foodland did manage to edge out the champion in two categories, earning the only five-star ratings for variety of products and customer service & accessibility of staff.
Woolworths, Coles and IGA all finished on three stars for overall satisfaction.
With plenty of options available when it comes to getting your grocery shopping done, sticking to the same supermarket chain may not be the best strategy for your household budget. The recent survey shows one in four (25%) respondents do all of their shopping with the same supermarket chain, and gave the following reasons when asked why:
Although a similar amount (24%) of Aussies said they could probably save money by shopping elsewhere, while 10% did end up switching to a different supermarket in the last year. These were the main reasons why:
Compared to the 22% who said the same last year, more people are now driving their trolleys (and wallets) towards chains with better quality products. Convenience also proved another major factor for changing aisles (up from 29%).
With the supermarkets introducing their own products into almost every aisle, the grocery shop often becomes a choice between supermarket-owned and branded products. Nearly half (45%) of survey respondents think supermarket private label products are good quality, dropping from a similar amount in our previous ratings (46%) and the year prior (76%). Plus, 25% said they tend to buy private labels rather than big brands. This number also continues to go down, falling from 27% last year and 47% in 2018.
While supermarket chains attempt to equal out the playing field with tactics like miniature toys and limited-time special deals, only 15% of respondents said the costs of basics such as milk and bread determined where they shop. Again, this amount continues to decrease (down from 17% in 2019, and 33% in 2018). It also seems customers are showing more willpower in the aisles, with 35% admitting to making impulse purchases (down from 37% last year, and 58% in 2018).
The average amount Aussies at the supermarket checkout remains around the $140 mark.
Grocery shopping can be a struggle at times, particularly if you have kids in tow, or you’re rushing to grab something quick for dinner. We asked survey respondents for their biggest pet peeves when the weekly grocery shop comes around, with queues at the checkout the biggest issue for shoppers.
Despite the lengthy list of gripes, 17% said they have no supermarket frustrations.
Supermarket chains are now becoming more environmentally conscious, opting for recyclable bags instead of plastic bags at the checkout. Some retailers have also made mini collectables more eco-friendly, using reusable materials and adding recycling bins in stores. Although a portion of people still forget to bring their own bag (19%). Nearly half (49%) of people would also still like to see supermarkets do more to reduce plastic in other areas, such as food packaging,
German grocery giant ALDI has again claimed top spot in these supermarket ratings. While ALDI doesn’t have the same number of stores as Coles and Woolworths, it’s fighting back against the duopoly with often lower prices, with its own brands offering real competition against the major brands stocked by other supermarkets. ALDI also offers something different with its ‘Special Buys’, one-off or seasonal products ranging from specialty foods to snow gear to luxury skin cream!
The South Australian chain stays true to its local values, with all Foodland branded products made in Australia, with over half of them made in SA itself. That means zero imported goods in the Foodland private label range. Outside of its stores, the company works to be an active part of South Australian communities by supporting local charities, schools and sporting clubs. Each Foodland supermarket is independently owned and locally-focused – so you can get all the advantages of a large chain with the community focus of your old-fashioned local business. With over 100 stores in South Australia, there are a scattering of stores in both the Northern Territory and New South Wales.
Often referred to as ‘Woolies’, Woolworths has around 1,000 locations around Australia, with its parent company – Woolworths Limited – also including Dan Murphy’s and Big W, in addition to a number of other smaller businesses. Similar to main rival Coles, the ‘fresh food people’ at Woolworths have also ventured into the online market, offering an online grocery experience for time-pressed shoppers, as well as offering the Click & Collect pickup or home delivery service.
One of Australia’s two biggest supermarket chains, Coles now stands as a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange, having previously been owned by the Wesfarmers Group, which now holds a 15% share in the business. Coles has more than 800 stores across Australia, meaning you’ll likely come across one on your travels. In addition to physical stores, Coles also offers online grocery shopping with the choice of ‘Click & Collect’ or home delivery, ideal for when you’re run off your feet.
The Independent Grocers of Australia works by utilising group purchasing and marketing, while store management and ownership stays independent. More and more solo shops are joining the IGA name, which currently has more than 1,400 locations across Australia, from small corner shops to sprawling supermarkets. Many IGA shops also carry more local brands, speciality products, or imports for some different variety from your usual supermarket stock.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Photo credit: anystock/shutterstock.com, Kaspars Grinvalds/shutterstock.com, garetsworkshop/shutterstock.com, Victor Wong/Shutterstock.com, Catrin Haze/Shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have made a purchase from a retail supermarket in the last month – in this case, 2,624 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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