Efficient staff and perfect availability helped Sainsbury’s Halifax store land this week’s top store award in what was a bad week for availability for some of the other retailers.

Our mystery shopper noted that staff were very helpful and polite when asked for assistance and that the store was easy to navigate. Its sales also appear to be strong (see right) – an impressive achievement given that it is only the fourth-most suited retailer to the area. Tesco in Milngavie, Glasgow, was just as spotless but let itself down slightly on availability. Although the Birds Eye peas were out of stock, staff informed our shopper that new stocks would arrive later that day. Another plus was the helpful checkout assistant who packed our shopper’s bags.

Asda’s bustling Stockport branch looked tired and jaded and our shopper’s impression of the store was not improved by poor availability. However, the Rollback promotions were clearly signposted and checkout staff were friendly.

The Buckingham Waitrose impressed, but though there were lots of meat deals, there was little advertising to promote its Tesco price match campaign and checkout staff did not offer a Community Matters token.

Although Morrisons in Whitham was clean, stacking trolleys blocked the aisles. The checkout operator was unfriendly and did not offer to help pack. However, there were no out of stocks.

The winner: Martyn Nicholson, store manager, Sainabury's, Halifax

How are you doing compared with other supermarkets? We are doing well and like-for-like sales are up. But we have noticed a huge change in customer shopping habits. The number of customers is the same but they shop in a different way. Our Feed Your Family for a Fiver campaign has received lots of interest and the recipe cards are flying off the racks.

How is the Basics range doing since it included more fresh produce? Really well. The range has encouraged customers to try more fruit and veg. People were initially sceptical because of the cheap prices but now they realise you can get fantastic quality at great prices.

Do you have any plans to expand? We are currently in the middle of a re-ranging exercise and will be selling more general merchandise and clothing. We realised from customer listening groups that there was greater demand for these items. I think they will do really well because people are looking less to the high street and more to value ranges.

What’s it like working for your store? It is a lovely store to work in with a very friendly atmosphere. Every year colleagues fill in a questionnaire on how happy they are working for us and our store had one of the top scores. Availability and service are our main focuses. We make sure we are the best in town. We have some very experienced and knowledgeable colleagues and a loyal customer base.

When was your store last in the papers? We are in the papers most weeks. Last week I went to a local primary school and gave them a Grow It, Cook It, Eat It kit as part of the Active Kids Get Cooking scheme.

How have customers reacted since you took carrier bags from the tills? We only did this last week, but so far so good. It is going down very well and we have had plenty of feedback, which has all been positive.

How do you motivate staff? I believe in treating everyone as an individual. If you treat people with respect and are fair, then they will repay you. That’s my philosophy.

How do you help the community?
In the past six months we have helped collect money for a number of good causes, including the local hospice, the air cadets, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Macmillan Cancer Support.