Sainsbury continues to lag behind its competitors in the availability stakes, according to The Grocer 33 survey.
The multiple, which recently parachuted in former Safeway logistics chief Lawrence Christensen to tackle its supply chain problems, recorded availability of just 96.5% over our past 14 weekly shopping trips (438 products were available out of 454 items on our list that are stocked by Sainsbury).
Asda’s performance was only slightly better at 97% (447 items available out of 461 sold), just below the average of 97.2%.
The worst performer was Safeway, which managed only 94.8%, although figures were slightly skewed by one trip to a store just about to convert to Morrisons, which appeared to be running down its stocks. The best performer, Waitrose, left rivals Tesco, Morrisons and Somerfield at least a percentage point in its wake.
Our three-month summary coincides with the publication of the third IGD/ECR UK availability survey, which monitors out-of-stocks on 200 branded and own label lines at 350 superstores every quarter.
Its figures show a slightly narrower variation in performance between the leading retailers, with availability ranging from 96.2% to 97.9%.
In an exclusive interview with The Grocer this week, Christian Salvesen UK boss Brian Gaunt said the figures should serve as a wake-up call to retailers to get to grips wih the primary cause of out of stocks: poor instore logistics and inaccurate book stock (see page 44).
On a category basis, ECR’s figures show health and beauty fared worst at 94%, while frozen was also poor at 95.9%. There were stronger performances in cigarettes (99.4%) and meat and fish (98.8%).
Alf Carr, director general of the British Frozen Food Federation, said the poor performance on frozen came as no surprise. He added: “Tesco has been particularly proactive in this area with its colour-coding system but there is still more work to do.”
The colour-coding helps store staff identify frozen foods by different colours on cases. Tesco category director for frozen food, Glen Attewell, said compliance from suppliers had been excellent, but felt it was difficult to say whether the scheme had made a significant difference to availability as other variables were at play.
“Colour-coding is just one of several initiatives to improve availability. But there is no question that it has made things easier for stores. All brown boxes look the same, so this makes a big difference.”
Elaine Watson