Tesco showed the biggest improvement, with a surge from 91.1% to 94.6% availability

As the cost of living crisis recedes, supermarkets have done a better job in the past year at getting products on shelves, according to the latest annual findings from the Grocer 33 competition.

On average, the traditional big four returned an availability score of 92.7% in the past 12 months, compared with 91.4% the previous year.

There were improvements from four of the five retailers we mystery shop on a weekly basis, with only Asda performing worse this year.

The most impressive improvement came from Tesco. Its surge from 91.1% to 94.6% took it from a tie for third place to first this year and saw the UK’s biggest retailer scoop the Grocer 33 availability prize at this week’s Grocer Gold Awards. It also provided our shoppers with eight full baskets of 33 items this year, compared with just one previously.

“We want every customer to have the confidence they can get what they want at Tesco, wherever or however they choose to shop with us,” said Tesco chief commercial officer Ashwin Prasad. “These results reflect the incredible efforts of our teams and supplier partners, working day in, day out to keep products moving, and I feel very proud of what we have achieved.”

Runner-up Sainsbury’s, which was crowned our Grocer of the Year this week, managed three full baskets but was closer to Tesco in terms of overall availability at 94.1%, an improvement from 92.5%.

Morrisons’ availability jumped from 91.1% to 92.5% and there was also strong evidence of a resurgence in overall store performance under new CEO Rami Baitiéh. In terms of customer service, Morrisons bagged 12 store of the week awards this year, compared with 10 previously. Nine of these 12 have come since Baitiéh joined the retailer in November.

Baitiéh’s management style has encouraged everyone on the shop floor to take more responsibility for a better shopping trip.

More on The Grocer Gold Awards:

Last month, he revealed to suppliers that customer complaints were down 60% and told an investors call that “every part of the business has a new energy and renewed focus. And we are just starting to see some of the improvements flow through to the underlying performance of the business”.

It has been a different tale for the other private equity-owned supermarket, Asda. Availability has fallen from 91.4% to 90.3%. Its average customer service score did improve slightly from 54.8 to 55, but this still left it in a distant last place, behind fourth-placed Morrisons on 63.7.

Matthew Barnes, Tesco UK CEO, Grocer 33 Availability

Matthew Barnes, Tesco UK CEO, collected The Grocer 33 Availability Award at The Grocer Gold Awards ceremony on 2 July

The Mohsin Issa and TDR Capital-owned retailer recently hired former Lidl COO Matt Heslop to run its stores and distribution network, including its 470-strong Asda Express division.

He is currently on gardening leave and is not set to join until the new year. Asda had hoped to appoint former Morrisons retail director Gary Mills as interim retail director this week but he had a change of heart.

“I know from previous experience that roles like these require 100% commitment and focus,” said Mills. “Upon reflection, I didn’t believe I could deliver that commitment over the next six months.”

The Grocer Gold customer service award was won by Waitrose for the fourth year running. However, the number of store of the week awards it won fell from 20 to 16. And though its availability improved, it was still second bottom on 92%.