The Grocer has launched a mystery shopping survey for the convenience sector.

As part of The Grocer’s new-look Independent View section, the mystery shop benchmarks independents against symbol groups, co-ops, discounters and the multiples’ convenience formats in the same area. The mystery shop, by field marketing agency FM&CG, rates five c-stores in a single area on five criteria: availability, customer service, services such as ATM and top-ups, and community facilities.

The final criteria will change every month, with this week’s mystery shop testing the availability of environmentally friendly products to coincide with The Grocer’s Green Issue. In future months, the shop will test availability of on-trend items such as fresh produce, local products and seasonal goods. It will also include a price comparison, but the scores will not be determined by price.

“We haven’t shirked the issue of price, but like-for-like comparisons are impossible,” said Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer. “Besides, in convenience, it’s not just about price. Our scoring system reflects that.”  The Co-operative Group triumphed in the first survey, but Jones Convenience Store came a close second.