Commissary shoppers gave their military stores the highest marks since 2012 in the latest annual survey, officials said.

Overall, the stores worldwide garnered a score of 4.51 on a 5-point scale in the annual survey. That’s up from 4.30 in 2018. On this scale, a score of 1 is “poor”, and a score of 5 is “excellent.”

More than 20,000 shoppers took the survey, conducted by the Defense Commissary Agency for 10 consecutive operating days at each commissary, starting July 29.

The overall score is a weighted average of scores on 14 topics based on store sales.

Commissary officials are encouraged by the improvement, said Robert Bianchi, a retired Navy rear admiral who is the DoD special assistant for commissary operations, in an announcement of the results.

“We believe our new programs are moving the needle — the Your Everyday Savings! program, renewed focus on customer service and an increased emphasis on getting more products on the shelf.”

However, he added, “there’s always room to do better, and that’s our mission as the providers of the commissary benefit.”

Overall commissaries’ scores improved in all categories. Customers rated the commissary at 4.42 in terms of low prices and overall savings.

The highest score of 4.75 was in the category of “courteous, friendly and helpful employees.” The lowest scores were in the categories of well-stocked shelves (4.29), and produce quality/selection (4.28).

Here are the overall scores on the 14 categories, compared to the scores in 2018.

Low prices/overall savings4.204.42
Well-stocked shelves4.094.29
Convenient hours4.364.62
Produce quality/selection4.084.28
Meat quality/selection4.394.57
Deli quality/selection4.234.45
Bakery quality/selection4.154.36
Selection, other food items (dry, frozen, dairy)4.284.49
Store layout and time required to shop4.344.58
Checkout waiting time4.354.50
Attractive displays/store decor4.314.53
Courteous, friendly, helpful employees4.574.75
Overall satisfaction4.444.60
Overall score 4.304.51

The Defense Commissary Agency has surveyed its customers since 1991, when the agency was created by combining the service branches’ separate commissary systems. This Commissary Customer Service Survey has been used since 2000.

Officials have also been using an additional survey through ForeSee, to get more immediate feedback for commissaries throughout the year. Like similar surveys used by other retailers, customers go to a link printed at the bottom of their sales receipt, to access the survey. Customers have seven days from the date of purchase to complete the survey.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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