Every week our Grocer 33 puts the mults to the test. But how about their c-stores?

supermarkets fascia test

Last month,The Grocer pitched a bunch of independent c-stores against each other, analysing their prices, service levels, on-shelf availability and the overall shopping experience. This time around we have tested standalone forecourt c-stores owned by the Co-op, M&S, a newly opened Morrisons Daily, a Sainsbury’s Local, a Tesco Express and a Little Waitrose.

We shopped for the same nine items as before, mimicking a typical basket of c-store staples made up of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s (cookie dough flavour), a bottle of Blossom Hill White zinfandel, a ready meal lasagne for one, a small loaf of Warburtons bread, a pint of milk, a box of 40 PG Tips, a pack of dried spaghetti, a bag of Walkers crisps and a bottle of Coca-Cola. Plus we looked at the price of fuel. If a product was unavailable because it was sold out or because it wasn’t stocked, a logical substitution was made (for instance, choosing a different flavour of Ben & Jerry’s).

The cheapest basket

In the following articles we can see how each supermarket’s smallest fascias compare on price - and the results are interesting to say the least, especially in terms of which supermarket emerged with the cheapest basket (and the eyewatering prices some charge for a single 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola). This time around we were also able to compare the premium supermarkets charge at their big stores compared with their little ones - these results were surprising, ranging from very little difference (3%) right up to a 27% premium at one store.

We also scored each fascia in terms of the overall shopping experience, giving ratings out of 10 across five different factors (internal and external appearance, store layout, store standards and customer service).

And we put each store’s food to go offer to the test. Given the opportunities this fast growing category presents, the results were underwhelming to say the least (although it’s worth remembering supermarkets may trial different versions of food to go in different stores, or have different offers dependent on demographics, so a single store isn’t entirely representative of each supermarket’s capabilities or latest thinking in this area).

As with last time round, there can be no definitive ‘winner’ on price, as substitutions can distort the final total. However, each store’s final total can broadly be compared against the rest. So which is cheapest? Which had the friendliest and most helpful staff? Which stores were clean and tidy? Which weren’t? Check out the list below.

Fascia Face-off Part 2: the supermarkets