Most bigger supermarkets struggle to recreate the sort of welcoming atmosphere that corner shops offer. Not Sainsbury's in Roath, Cardiff, however. It not only managed this feat but provided the only full basket this week, earning it our Top Store award. At 50,000 sq ft, the store is hardly small, but like a corner shop, it has steadily built up a loyal customer base over the past 25 years and created an environment so relaxed and affable that many staff and customers know each other by first name. Our shopper was also impressed with the gap-free shelves, quality fresh produce and a wide selection of special offers. "What is particularly special about our store is the special bond between staff and shoppers," said store manager Dave Ball. "Many members of our team have been here since it opened 25 years ago. Despite the store's considerable size, it manages to have the familiar and engaging appeal of a corner shop." Although CACI data indicates Waitrose is the best-suited store to the Roath area, there are only two Waitrose outlets within 20 miles of Ball's store so they don't pose significant competition. The data also indicates there is a balanced representation of socio-economic groups shopping at his store. The store's broad appeal - it is as popular with students as wealthy shoppers - is what made it such a success, said Ball.

Q&A with Dave Ball Store manager of the week


What products are selling well at the moment? Our catchment is diverse. We are located near the campus of Cardiff University so students are looking for cheaper food and buy our Basics range. However, we are also nearby the more affluent part of Cardiff, which means we can also sell more premium ranges than other stores. For example, we introduced National Trust Welsh Lamb recently and also launched a Taste the Difference range of game meats two weeks ago - both of which are selling well. Shoppers are even more prepared to trade up to these products in the run-up to Christmas. Our meat counter has been crowned this year's Sainsbury's Meat Counter of the Year. It is run by a superb group of specialists who are keen to keep our product ranges innovative and interesting. What would you like to change about your store? In order for us to offer the top range of foods, clothing and general merchandise, I would like to make the store bigger. It simply would give us the scope to bring in more money. How much do you get involved with the local community? I visited a local primary and secondary school a month ago to present them with food and cooking equipment as part of the Making a Difference Day. We encouraged the children to cook with healthier food and talked to them about the importance of locally sourced produce. Where a product is made has become an important issue for consumers so kids should learn about it too. Members of the local community saw me in a different light two weeks ago when I dressed up in a pink bra and pink pyjama bottoms for our Tickled Pink campaign. What is your competition like? There are two large Tesco stores and an Asda within two miles but we are a large trolley, high-turnover store. We have been here the longest, which customers recognise and they reward us with their loyalty.



Asda Brighton

1 - Our Asda shopper disliked the layout of this store on Brighton's marina because it had two different chilled aisles at either end of the store. However, the staff were quick to offer assistance and the store was clean and well-maintained. The Wall's thick pork sausages were out of stock but 17 of the 20 tills were open. We visited on 2 November at 6.45pm. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was nine minutes.

morrisons Wigan, Greater Manchester

1 - A few packing trolleys were dotted around the Morrisons in The Galleries area of Wigan but they didn't get in the way. The floor assistants and the checkout operator were all courteous and helpful. The Kleenex for Men tissues were out of stock and our shopper was told they were not expected to arrive for a couple of days. We visited on 2 November at 11.30am. Our shop lasted one hour and 10 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was six minutes.

sainsbury's Roath, Cardiff

0 - This Sainsbury's was the only store to provide all 33 items on the list and, thanks to its smart and welcoming staff and litter-free aisles, this earnt it our Top Store award. Our shopper noticed the fresh produce section was being restocked and was impressed by how quickly and politely the staff moved out of the shoppers' way. We visited on 2 November at 1.55pm. Our shop lasted 46 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was five minutes.

somerfield Bletchley, Milton Keynes

2 - The shelf-stackers outnumbered the customers at this poorly lit Somerfield store. The checkout operator was friendly and chatty - but only with the other checkout staff. Her lack of concentration resulted in a long queue and the onions being missed off the bill. The Stella Artois and Twix biscuits were out of stock. We visited on 2 November at 5.10pm. Our shop lasted 50 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was 10 minutes.

tesco New Milton, Hampshire

0 - It was a hectic scene in the bustling aisles of this large Tesco store, and packing trolleys and shelf-stackers did nothing to ease the congestion. However, the staff were chirpy and the checkout operators were keeping the queues to a minimum. The chopped tomatoes with herbs and the Twix biscuits were not stocked. We visited on 2 November at 3.45pm. Our shop lasted one hour. Time spent at the checkout was six minutes.

waitrose Balham, south London

0 - This Waitrose was compact yet well-maintained, with attractive displays and clear signage. The required size of Twix biscuits and the Birds Eye chicken curry meal were not stocked and the Philadelphia soft cheese was out of stock. We visited on 2 November at 8.30pm. Our shop lasted 30 minutes. Time spent at the checkout was three minutes.