Two retailers boasted strong availability this week, but Asda's Maryhill branch in Glasgow pipped Tesco to the post thanks to its flawless service.
The store was busy, but this did not stop its friendly staff from helping our shopper locate several items. Plenty of tills were open and the "very polite" checkout assistant efficiently scanned our shopper's items, then packed his bags.
The Westhill Tesco in Aberdeen was let down by a long queue and a "slow and uninterested" checkout assistant. Our shopper noted the aisle staff lacked knowledge, though they were helpful.
The Lenor fabric conditioner was sold out at Morrisons in Coalville, Leicestershire. However, staff were careful not to let the packing trolleys they were unloading in the aisles get in the way, the checkout queue was short and the chatty assistant offered to pack.
Two out-of-stock items let Sainsbury's in Sydenham down. Our shopper was impressed by an assistant who got her a Hovis Seeds Sensation loaf from the warehouse. However, she was disappointed with another, who told her to ask someone else to help locate the Walkers Crisps.
Waitrose's Beaconsfield branch also had two out-of-stock items and our shopper was charged twice for the pitta bread and not at all for the mushrooms. Plenty of tills were open, however, and the staff were friendly.
Winner: Lisa Conn, holding store manager, Asda, Maryhill
Our shopper was impressed with the quick checkout time. How did you pull it off? During the past couple of months we have been really focusing on keeping the queues as short as possible through our Queue Hosting initiative. A colleague stands near the tills and points customers in the direction of the shortest queue. They really appreciate it, because the last thing they want to do is hang around waiting to be served.
Has the new Extra Special packaging been introduced in your store yet? It is being rolled out gradually, so some of the lines we stock have the new packaging. I think it stands out a lot better and looks more expensive than the old packaging. Before, it was a creamy domestic colour and wasn't that noticeable.
What's it like competing with Lidl? Lidl is half mile away and it opened about a year and a half ago. This area is fairly deprived, so customers really shop around and cherrypick to get the best deals. For example, if we have a bargain deal on pineapple, shoppers will buy it from us. However, if Lidl puts other lines on promotion, they will go there. We also have a Tesco in the area, but it is slightly further away. I have heard it is planning to undergo a refit, so I think a lot of Tesco customers will come to use our store when the work begins.
Tell me about the refit you underwent last year. We actually reduced the size of the store from 38,000 sq ft to 28,000 sq ft, as well as the amount of stock we carry, to make it more profitable. We got rid of a lot of non-food, including clothing, because a lot of cash-strapped shoppers were not buying it and were mainly interested in the groceries we sold. I think we offer exactly what our shoppers want now. We have not done anything with the space we got rid of yet, or made plans for what we will do with it.
How are the Feed a Family for £4 recipe cards faring? We place them next to the products featured and our customers really like them. We are planning to launch recipe cards tailored specifically to suit the needs of shoppers from this store. We are currently working with the marketing team to create recipes using our top 50 best sellers.