Out of stocks and poor communication gave our shoppers a hard time. Checkout staff at the NE Co-op hardly spoke to customers and offered no help with packing, although other staff there scored well on service. At Safeway too staff were unhelpful. Loose pears were on sale at the entrance but there was not a plastic bag in sight. Our shopper received a curt "inside" to the request to be told where they were. Persil Tablets in 18-packs were elusive in Sainsbury and Waitrose. Staff at Sainsbury, Beeston, had not had a delivery for four weeks. Waitrose HQ confirmed the line had been dropped from some stores, as had Jacob's Creek Shiraz Cabernet wine. Both Sainsbury stores were out of sausages ­ at Beeston this was because they had been left off the delivery roster. Signs promoting local produce, such as Hereford beef and Welsh water, were a strong feature in Waitrose. In contrast, at Sainsbury, Farlington, our shopper was incensed to see apples in a Union Flag wrapping with Union Flag stickers attached, sitting on a shelf labelled French Royal Gala. Staff were informed and once they had confirmed the apples were British they immediately altered the label. Somerfield and Safeway checked in the only full baskets, and the latter had the cheapest at £40.49. {{GROCER 33 }}