Address: Brighton Road, Horley
Opening hours: 12am-11.30pm
Price at the pump: Unleaded 122.9p Diesel 124.9p
They don’t call it ‘Little Waitrose’ for nothing. Like someone shrunk a full size Waitrose down to c-store size, the effect is instantly recognisable and pleasing. Outside the store is smart, with several ads promoting the MyWaitrose card. Inside there are neat design touches, like the light wooden floor complemented by the same light wood topping the chillers, which gives the store light, warmth and aesthetic cohesion.
A surprising result here. Waitrose finished in third place, nudging ahead of Morrisons, which was 49p more expensive.
A promotion on Ben & Jerry’s helped, but that was also counterbalanced by having to buy two pints of milk, a more expensive loaf of bread and 80 PG Tips. Waitrose wasn’t the cheapest on anything but it wasn’t the most expensive for anything either, other than the milk (and only then because it was the only place to have run out of single pints).
Like Sainsbury’s, the promotion on the ice cream helped (in fact, if you remove the ice cream altogether Waitrose would slip to fifth). This basket cost 16% more than it would have cost by picking up a the same basket in a regular Waitrose supermarket.
The ranging is clever - everything is present and correct but kept to a minimum so the store feels uncluttered and spacious without choice feeling restrictive. And it’s reassuring pricewise that the pasta was Essential Waitrose, which at 89p contributed to the overall lowish price. By comparison M&S charged £1.60 for the spaghetti.
We had to choose a different flavour of ice cream, which was on promotion, a larger loaf and 80 tea bags. One person was behind the till, and like a lot of Waitrose staff he was a credit to the business, greeting regulars by name, cracking jokes, having fun, but scanning and bagging swiftly. Just one reason why Waitrose tops the in-store experience table.
Food to go 2/5
This store devotes good space to food to go, with hot coffee and a hot food cabinet with various savouries on offer. This being Waitrose, one was a Chicken & White Wine Slice but frankly you’d be better off with a regular Greggs.
The thin wine and mushroom filling conspired to produce a bitter flavour that was begging for some cream to lighten it up. And the on-pack claim that it was ‘cooked here today’ was debatable. It’s been slapped in an oven, heated to molten, then wrapped in plastic and kept hot for hours until some poor sucker shells out £2 for the privilege of eating it. I ate half and gave the rest to a dog.
He didn’t seem especially keen either. A disappointing effort from the foodies’ choice, but, remarkably, still the best hot food on offer from the six stores visited.