Trader Joe’s Complaints (Common Grievances Shared By Regular Customers)

Are you tired of Trader Joe’s always being overcrowded? Do you find the parking space in your local TJ’s store to be over-cramped? Or perhaps you are not a fan of your favorite products disappearing without warning? If any of these Trader Joe’s complaints sound familiar, you are not alone.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common grievances some customers have about America’s favorite grocery store. Read on to dive into the world of Trader Joe’s and find out how it can improve its reputation and service delivery to its customers even further.

#1: Stores Are Always Overcrowded

Trader Joe's Complaints

One of the most common complaints held by TJ’s shoppers is that their local store can often be overcrowded. Long lines at the checkout, crowded aisles, and throngs of people in the freezing section all contribute to give the customers inside a suffocated feel.

For some shoppers, Sunday mid-day can be a particularly difficult time to visit the store. As that is when most TJ’s are at its peak capacity, thanks to people shopping for the week ahead. The checkout lines are so long on Sundays that customers who know better opt for shopping on weekdays.

Some customers are so fed up with the crowd problem that they suggest TJ’s to enact occupancy limits to solve this issue. Safe to say, this advice isn’t going to be acted upon happen anytime soon.  

#2: Weird Layout Makes Stores Difficult To Navigate

As if the overcrowding problem wasn’t enough to convince people to shop elsewhere, TJ’s strange layout plan also pushes its customers toward rivals.

One puzzled shopper complained that even after shopping at their regular stores for years, they still completely forget how to go to a specific section inside the store.

Another unhappy customer went so far as to claim that their local store didn’t have enough space from the front of the aisles to the cash registers. The shopper further claimed that the weird layout forced them to go down the aisles from the rear rather than from the front.  

#3: Parking Lots Are Much Smaller Than Competitors’

pexels kelly 2402235

According to a report by Washington Post, Trader Joe’s floor plan is much smaller than rivals. For instance, while each TJ’s location is typically 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, the average Whole Foods Market has a gross square footage of 40,000 square feet.

However, small square footage isn’t the only reason why TJ’s parking lots are much smaller than rivals. The location of its stores – many TJ’s are located in dense neighborhoods – also forces the grocery chain to give the store the lion’s share of the available space, shrinking its parking space.

The problem is so popular that many publications have compiled memes on it. For example, here’s a Buzz Feed article reporting a fake conversation between a TJ’s agent and a landlord.

Trader Joe’s Real Estate Agent: How’s the parking lot?

Landlord: Terrible

Trader Joe’s Real Estate Agent: We’ll take it!

Ask anyone who has ever had to find parking space at any TJ’s parking lot, and you’d realize that the above fictional conversation isn’t far from reality.

#4: Good Items Get Discontinued Far Too Often

Do you regularly visit Trader’s Joe? Then you might be aware of the fact that TJ’s introduces and discontinues products more frequently than its rivals.

This is part of a policy that was perfectly summarized in a podcast by Mitch Heeger, TJ’s executive VP for marketing and merchandising. As Heeger put it, “We always say that, you know, customers vote with their dollars. If something’s not selling as well, we’ll discontinue that product.”

While this policy is unquestionably good for TJ’s bottom line, it is enough to frustrate those who can’t see their favorite product on the shelves.

#5: Too Much Packaging On Products

Although it eliminated more than 6 million pounds of plastics in 2019 and another 2 million pounds in 2020. TJ’s still has a long way to go to rid its stores of throwaway plastic packaging. 

Take, for instance, plums, peaches, tomatoes, and zucchini. All these items are those that don’t seem to need packaging. Yet step inside any TJ’s store near you, and you’d likely see all of the above packed in plastic boxes or wrapped on paper trays.

Customers gripe that even those items which can do without cellophane come wrapped in obscene amounts of packaging. Some have gone so far as to claim that the packaging on TJ’s produce makes them very uncomfortable in purchasing them.

#6: Some Of Their Best Products Are Seasonal

When the weather starts to turn, and you see your seasonal favorites disappear off TJ’s store shelves, you may start cursing the executive behind the decision.

Fortunately, in a Trader Joe’s podcast (yes, there’s a TJ’s podcast), marketing director Tara Miller explained why TJ replaces seasonal products every now and then.

“One of the things that we do is constantly introduce new products. And if we took all of those limited-buy or seasonal-type products and made them every day, there’d be no room in the store to introduce new products. So by making some things come and go, that gives us the ability to introduce other things.”

While this answer may satisfy your curious brain, it may not be enough to satisfy your taste buds who want to keep enjoying the magic of pumpkin butter all-year round.


Most of the complaints shared above can be linked to Trader Joe’s emphasis on smaller store sizes and limited product offerings. As such, it can be said that they might not be addressed unless TJ’s changes its business model, which is something that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Leave a Comment