The 33 items were easy to find and shelves were brimming with stock. A staff member escorted our shopper to the items he was looking for and the checkout assistant was polite and efficiently refunded an item after our shopper picked up the wrong type of houmous.
Waitrose in Horsham also boasted 100% availability and staff pointed our shopper to the Marmite. The checkout assistant was polite, but queues were long and more tills should have been open.
One out-of-stock item let Morrisons’ Byker branch down. Staff proved efficient, however, as an assistant who was busy shelf stacking helped our shopper locate several items, and queues at the checkout were short.
Tesco in Fforestfach also failed to provide a full trolley. When our shopper asked for help locating the wine, two staff members had to pass her on to a third assistant. The aisles were also congested.
Asda in Brighton also had one out-of-stock item – at least, an assistant informed our shopper he thought the Quorn Chicken Style Pieces were out of stock, but he did not check. Our shopper’s trolley was difficult to steer and the checkout assistant scanned items too quickly, making packing difficult.
Winner: Simon Ross, store manager, Sainsbury's Stirling
How is your Switch & Save campaign going? It is working brilliantly and the feedback from customers has been excellent. People are realising they can come and get great-quality products for a fantastic price. Our Basics salmon fillets are selling particularly well.
What are you doing to move the offer on from Christmas pies? Our hot cross buns are on bogof at the moment and they are flying off the shelves. It helps customers look forward to spring and Easter during gloomier times.
How are your non-food sales doing at this time of year? About 25% of our products are non-food. Obviously the credit crunch has had an impact on sales, but they are still up year-on-year. This is because we have some great January sales, where once a product’s gone, it’s gone. You can get a Sony Bravia TV reduced by £200. I would love a much larger non-food and clothing range, as our sales per sq ft are high. We have plans to increase the whole format, but nothing has been finalised yet.
Why is Sainsbury's a good supermarket to work for? Because head office gives us lots of freedom and wants all stores to be great places to work. We have a strong involvement with the local community and hold fun days and seasonal events.
Has the running of the store changed recently? Department managers have recently been given more responsibilities, which concern not only their sections but other departments, too. They walk around the store every day and look at issues, such as litter in the aisles, and then deal with them. They work together and help each other out and it is proving most effective in providing better customer service.
How do you compete against local supermarkets given CACI data states you are the fourth most-suited retailer to Stirling? We have a Tesco and a Morrisons nearby, both slightly larger than our store. Tesco is right in the middle of Stirling, which gives it a competitive edge. However, we compete well. At our store we focus on being able to have the best availability all the time and on ensuring every decision we make passes the customer service test.