Two retailers boasted 100% availability this week, but Asda in Swansea was the clear winner thanks to great customer service and a fun atmosphere as staff got into the spirit of Children in Need.
Staff at the tidy Asda escorted our shopper to the items and provided recommended bread types. The queues were short and the checkout staff packed her bags. As part of Asda's Children in Need drive, which has so far raised £2.3m, the store was holding fundraising activities and staff were dressed in costume.
Some staff at Sainsbury's in Cheadle were also helpful, but their good work was undone when our shopper reached the till. He had to complain to a supervisor about the cashier's attitude after she failed to greet him, scanned the items so quickly they piled up and failed to offer to pack.
Not realising Sainsbury's prints double-sided receipts, our shopper then made the mistake of asking where the second half was at which the cashier turned it over, slammed it down and said: "Look at that."
By contrast, our Morrisons shopper found the Baillieston store "a nice store to shop in" though it did not provide a full basket.
Waitrose in Cirencester provided great service but was let down by availability, with some shelves empty. The checkout assistant was polite at Tesco in Bathgate but several staff in the aisles appeared too busy to help our shopper.
Winner: Neil Hinkley, deputy store manager, Asda, swansea
What offers do you have on? Our Advent calendars and spirits are on promotion ready for the festive season and are going down extremely well with customers. We had some great deals on the big tins of chocolate, including Cadbury Roses, Heroes and Nestlé Quality Street, where you could buy two for £7. Store sales are up about 9% to 10% year-on-year so customers are buying food in preparation for Christmas earlier than last year.
Has your online service grown? Our home shopping service is trading well. We make about £40,000 a week, which accounts for some 3% of sales. Demand is growing fast - we have gone from three to five delivery lorries since July and have four delivery slots a day.
What would you like to change about the store? I would like a mezzanine floor and to make our non-food space larger. We take the sales of a superstore, but do not have the same amount of non-food. I would like to see larger ranges of household, leisure and electronic goods.
How are you competing with other supermarkets in your area? We trade well against our competitors here. Tesco is our biggest rival. We have four superstores as well as an Extra located within a five-mile radius. The Extra is less than half a mile away, and has a larger non-food offer than we do.
How do you and your staff socialise outside work? Many members of the team like to socialise together and often go out when it is payday weekend. We also have many other get-togethers. We are having a staff party this Christmas at a venue we have hired out. We are also holding department parties, where the store donates £5 a head.
How are customers taking to the Asda Direct service? Really well - we have had some great feedback. Customers take a catalogue and can then go online and order. If they have any queries or refunds we can help them here.
How do you motivate staff? By influencing them and showing them what's good and what's not good for customers. I try to make them see things from a customer's point of view. Listening to customers is very important.