Who we visited

BUDGENS Tolworth, Surrey

south west CO-OP Wyndham Way, Portishead

COSTCUTTER Eden Street, Kingston

TESCO EXPRESS Derby Road, Derby

TESCO METRO Mather Street, Salford

How they performed

This week's Top-up shopping expedition revealed surprising price differences between Tesco's Express store on Derby Road, Derby, and its Metro store on Mather Street, Salford, Greater Manchester.

At 88p Hovis was the cheapest branded white loaf available to our shopper in the Express store, while Tesco's Metro was only stocking Warburtons for 8p more. On the other hand, the Metro charged £4.18 for a four-pack of Stella beer, versus £4.35 at the Derby Express store. Both, however, featured the Stella on offer at 2 for £7.40.

Customer service was more than a little frosty at Tesco's Metro store. Our shopper said that staff appeared unenthusiastic and were slow to assist with her queries. She was also ignored by the checkout assistant, who gave her no help packing her bags.

Meanwhile, Bugdens' Ewell Road store in Tolworth, Surrey, scored top marks for availability and service. Our shopper was able to purchase all the items she was looking for and found the staff to be extremely helpful and friendly.

Our shopper described Costcutter's Eden Street store in Kingston as rather cluttered, although she added that staff were friendly and helpful. The store does not sell Fairy washing-up liquid, or six packs of bacon, although eight-packs were available for £2.69. The Costcutter also did not stock Stella Artois in 4x400ml packs, but offered the larger 4x500ml size for £3.99. However, it did charge the largest amount of all the retailers for a single Mars Bar.

The Co-op on Wyndham Way in Portishead was out of stock of its bacon six-pack, but our shopper reported that the store was clean, well presented and easy to navigate.