Newcastle-upon-Tyne's convenience stores came under the scrutiny of our mystery shopping team this week. The four c-stores, trading in the shadow of a Safeway supermarket, had more or less cracked any replenishment problems but displayed symptoms of the ailments that are dogging the convenience sector, such as lack of parking, security and shoplifting. For example the Mace c-store and post office in Druridge Drive kept higher value goods behind the checkout while its lack of parking facilities restricted customers to those who lived close by. VG Lateshop was adjacent to Michael's Superstore and both were opposite a branch of discounter Aldi. Although VG had a comprehensive range, quantities were low, but sufficient to enable our shopper to leave with one of two full baskets. VG also had ample parking, a contrast to Michael's where a delivery was causing congestion. In the style of Aldi, our shopper was charged 3p for a carrier bag at Michael's Superstore. At United News, in the Chapel Park estate, the emphasis was on newspapers and the instore post office. Groceries were a sideline, and the store sold only two-litre packs of milk. Mace came out top on price, with a full basket at £14.24. {{GROCER 33 }}

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