The 2019 IGA Assessment Program Results Are In—Who Made Five Star Status?

Feb 26, 2020

A great grocery store embodies a lot: outstanding and varied offerings, strong merchandising, customer service that makes a shopper feel valued and appreciated. Beyond that, theres a level of innovation necessary to draw customers in and keep them—something that makes the store worth talking about and shoppers craving a return visit.

IGAs Assessment Program aims to identify and honor the stores that are excelling in the independent industry and offer guidance and feedback to those who need it through the comprehensive analytics provided throughout the year-long study. The most recent Assessment Program, conducted over three seasons in 2019, leveraged technology and a new partnership to modernize the program, and now the overall results are in! See what changed this year, who earned Five Star status, and what IGA plans to change for the 2020 assessments.

The 2019 Assessment: A Recap

In 2019, IGA partnered with to revise and improve the assessment process. Designed to provide a better, more impactful analysis of the store, the updated assessment places a heavier focus on shopability and service, helping retailers understand what is working and what needs attention in their stores.

I personally changed the scoring standards in 2019, reducing the weight of IGA branding and increasing the number of questions about merchandising and operational excellence,” IGA CEO John Ross says. I wanted us to favor great operations, merchandising, customer service, innovation over things like the number of IGA logos, store conditions, and branding. Being a supporter of the brand and having a beautiful store is important, but being a great retailer is way more important.”

The process and goals changed, too. With a trained local mystery shopper assessing your store three times a year, used photos and survey responses to assess and compare your results with other IGA stores to provide helpful feedback so you can improve.

As Paulo Goelzer, president of the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, says, The new Assessment Program is not about catching you doing something wrong, but rather identifying tactical ways we can help you do better.” The Institute is even using the Assessment Program results to shape future training courses.

Five Star Award Winners

With the Assessment Program updated to better reflect the needs and preferences of local shoppers, the Five Star designation is even more meaningful this year. IGA changed the cutoff to 90 percent, ensuring the program is in line with historical trends and making the award even more prestigious. Ross explained the change, saying, Combined with the change in grading scale, and focus on operational excellence, I believe this will make us all proud of our program today and going forward.”

Rating Scale for Five Star Status

Five Star






Four Star






Three Star






Two Star






One Star






The Rating Scale for the new Assessment Program.

Stores excelling in operations, merchandising, and service earned high marks, setting a high standard for IGA retailers everywhere. See which retailers earned Five Star status.


The Future: What Will Change in the 2020 Assessment Program

The 2019 Assessment Program was a learning process. IGA partnered with a new vendor, assessors behaved more like shoppers and consequently saw the stores in different ways, and the program now includes a picture-taking component that created some awkward situations in-store. Goelzer notes, "The weight of questions and resulting rubric will provide some surprises, especially because of the new emphases on merchandising, service, and operational excellence."

Now, with the first year of shops complete, Goelzer and the team at are using what theyve learned to further improve the 2020 Assessment Program, with new survey questions and scoring that is easier to understand. Theyre also reviewing the timeframe for visits, updating the assessor process—with more preparation for the assessors prior to the shop and improved consistency among scoring—and adding a consumer input component by the end of the year.

This is a journey and it will continue to get better as we go forward,” Goelzer says.

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