Texas favorite H-E-B bags No. 1 spot in annual survey of best U.S. grocers
Lots of bummer things happened in 2021. But for Texans, no greater indignity was suffered than H-E-Bfalling behind Amazon on dunnhumby’s Top U.S. Grocery Retailers list.
Thank goodness that’s all behind us. The consumer research firm recently released its 2022 Retailer Preference Index report, a survey of over 30,000 consumers. Once again, H-E-B took the throne, besting more than 60 grocers ranging from giants like Walmart to beloved regional chains like Wegmens.
To arrive at the rankings, dunnhumby zeroed in on five sectors of customer preference: price, promotions and rewards, quality, speed and convenience, digital, and operations. H-E-B scored near the top of three drivers — price, quality, and digital.
H-E-B slipped to the second spot in 2021 due to that all-too-familiar bogeyman — the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantines and other outside pressures made timesaving and a seamless eCommerce experience more critical to the average shopper.
With pandemic concerns receding, H-E-B’s overall quality and leadership in price, promotions, and rewards have moved to the top of customers’ minds. Meanwhile, the hometown hero has managed to close the digital gap.
Dunnhumby recognized the shift by naming H-E-B in its inaugural survey of the best online grocery retailers in the U.S. in July 2022. In that study, the San Antonio-based chain received high scores for ease in ordering and payments, on-time deliveries, and accuracy in charges, among other metrics.
Notably the store has boasted $32 billion in sales and a recent rank as No. 5 on the list of biggest privately owned companies in the U.S. (The chain also boasts outposts in Mexico.)
However, the reason locals keep giving H-E-B its flowers may be more intangible. The retailer has made a name for itself by supporting small Texas companies and supporting community causes, particularly education. And, of course, its fleets are among the first to act during statewide emergencies.
As dunnhumby’s online study stated in 2022, “It is worth highlighting the regional grocer has the best emotional connection … out of all of the retailers in this study.”
Credit for that, of course, should go largely to the friendly former president Scott McLelland. But as he shared with CultureMap, McClelland would never accept such praise.
“I think I’ve had influence on a lot of different areas at H-E-B,” McClelland told us — as he was driving to an H-E-B location. “But frankly, I’ve been part of the team, and taking a lot of individual credit is just not something that I really have a lot of interest in doing. What I take pride in is that H-E-B has been able to be successful. We’ve been able to create more good jobs and careers and livelihoods for people. I can’t take sole credit for that. I was one cog in a wheel of a lot of people that did a lot of work collectively. I think we’ve taken a lot of pride and joy in having been able to do that.”
Steven Devadanam contributed to this article.