They were cramming the aisles and checkouts this week as busy stores grew busier and out of stocks increased. Asda in Plymouth provided the only full basket as staff kept shelves fully stocked in a store that was heaving. Asda in Hellesdon was equally busy but our shopper had a 10-minute wait at the checkout, standing behind a customer buying shoes which had the price tag missing. On the bright side, staff there won full marks for helpfulness after one went to the store room to get the bottle of Jacob's Creek wine that had been requested and then tracked down our shopper in the store. At Sainsbury, Newport, only eight of the 20 checkouts were open, giving our shopper there a 15-minute wait. An SOS over the tannoy brought extra help, but too late. A refit was in progress at Tesco in Nottingham which made negotiating the aisles difficult, while the relocation of lines made items hard to find. Safeway was a little pricier than the other stores but that was counterbalanced by the fact it had the lion's share of special offers, and deep cuts on many lines. Stores were awash with our special buy of a Christmas pudding. Prices were virtually unchanged from last year with Tesco and Asda selling the cheapest at £1.88. {{GROCER 33 }}

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