Morrisons Birtley

Source: Richardsons Photographers

Morrisons Birtley was well laid out, and checkout service was ‘excellent’

In a low-scoring Saturday morning shop, Morrisons seized its second win of the new Grocer 33 year this week with 66 points.

Its bright and airy store in Birtley, Chester-le-Street offered a pleasant shop, and was well laid out, said our shopper, though there were a couple of areas that were difficult to find, including the dental section.

The “speedy and efficient” checkout experience stood out. There were a number of cashiers working the tills and our shopper was called to a newly opened checkout so did not have to queue. And the checkout assistant was friendly.

The win was achieved despite the lowest score for availability, with four items out of stock.

In contrast, second place Asda North Hykeham had the best availability of any shop, with just one item out of stock, though the tills were “probably the best part of my experience” said our shopper. He only had to wait one minute to be served by a “lovely lady” who was “very friendly and chatty” and had worked at the store for 22 years.

But despite the positive aspects, our shopper found the shop “long and stressful”. There was significant mess and clutter, which made the shop feel crowded. Our shopper also felt shop floor staff could benefit from training, as some made him feel like an inconvenience.

The Waitrose Bressenden Place store, just a short walk from the John Lewis head office, scored 63 points. While availability was hampered by the small size of the store (with eight items not stocked), stock levels were very low across the store with entire shelves empty in the food to go section.

Customer service was excellent, however, making for a very positive shopping experience”.One staff member went out of his way to help our shopper, looking for items in the stockroom, finding items on shelf and searching for missing items on his device. “He was an asset to the store,” said our shopper.

Trailing further behind was the Tesco Truro store, which scored just 55 points.

The car park was compact and difficult to navigate, with the roundabout entry placed abruptly on a busy road. The parking bays were fairly narrow and there were no visible walkways for pedestrians.

Inside, the store also felt closed in and compact despite its relatively large size, so navigating the aisles with a trolley was tricky. And only the food to go section looked attractive.

On the customer service side, staff were very busy stacking shelves and not able to interact with customers much. And at the checkout there was a wait of two to three minutes. The assistant did not ask our shopper for her Clubcard, so she missed out on savings and points.

Bringing up the rear was Iceland. Its Leicester store scored just 45 points.

The car park was small and privately owned, with a fee of £2, partially refunded after making a purchase. Our shopper struggled to complete her shop within the one-hour parking time allowed.

Inside, products were not easy to find due a poor store layout and a lack of concern for shelf labelling, with products in the wrong shelves. Store standards were generally poor.

The store was also difficult to navigate as the aisles were not large enough. Three items were out of stock. There were some staff on the shop floor, but service was inconsistent. At one point a staff member simply pointed our shopper to a different store assistant.

But at least checkout service was swift, with our shopper only queueing for a minute.