Morrisons in Loughborough was well presented and tidy but the staff were not particularly helpful. When asked if the Philadelphia was in stock, the sales assistant said it was unlikely if the product was not on display but did not offer to check. The checkout assistant was friendly but did not offer to help with packing.
There were a lot of gaps on the shelves at Tesco in Portsmouth, and not many staff were around to restock them.
It took our shopper five minutes to find someone to ask for help and another 10 minutes waiting for them to confirm there was no Blossom Hill Signature Red in stock. Cages were also left unattended in awkward places and caused congestion when shoppers tried to pass them.
Waitrose in Stroud had three out-of-stocks but staff were friendly, polite and helpful. The store had Quick Check scan-as-you-shop handsets to reduce queuing times.
Uncle Ben's Express golden vegetable rice and guava Rubicon drink were out-of-stock in Sainsbury's, Hamilton. The store was tidy and the assistants helpful but there was a five-minute queue at the till because six checkouts out of 18 were closed.
Winner: Stuart Craig, general store manager, Asda, Gosforth
What adjustments do you make for being open 24 hours? From opening the door on Monday morning and closing on Saturday night, you can't differentiate between night and day - you've got to maintain standards of availability, cleanliness, freshness and service.
Gosforth is a very cosmopolitan area in Newcastle where we have people in all walks of life and those who work in the public sector, so there's a demand to shop right through the night.
How do you encourage good customer service? It all stems from attitude. I feel it's our point of difference as well as being the cheapest place to shop. It's all about conditioning new colleagues that the customer comes first in all areas. The majority of colleagues in-store are shareholders now, so it's in our interest to deliver good customer service.
What challenges have you recently faced? Since I joined 11 weeks ago I've tried to instil a little bit of self-belief and pride in the colleagues. It's about empowerment, encouragement and getting them to believe in their abilities. It's going to be a long haul but I've got a vision of where I want to be.
What's been selling well recently? Our clothing and footwear range does very well, as well as impulse buys and general merchandise lines. At this moment in time non-food growth is outperforming food. While general merchandise products were once considered a bit of a luxury, they're now so cheap that people come to Asda purely to buy them.
What deals have you got on? Some of the beer deals we've had recently are absolutely superb. Our star buy is Carlsberg 24-pack for £10. It absolutely wows the customer. We've just started selling a pack of strawberries and cream for £1 to tie in with Wimbledon and had some great feedback so far. There are great deals on soft fruit, too.
Our shopper reported confusing signage. Are you addressing this? Sometimes you can confuse the customer by not landing the value message correctly. Some of the PoS displays from head office are brilliant. It's a question of applying it to the right discipline. The message is something we've got to work on.
Grocer 33: Tesco pips Asda by less than a pound (26 June 2010)