waitrose social distancing (2)

Source: Mystery shopper

Waitrose in Beaconsfield has won the Grocer 33 thanks to its “clean and safe” ambience during our mystery shopper’s Sunday afternoon visit.

The store was busy, but our shopper was impressed by the clear social distancing markers and was happy to find plenty of sanitised trolleys and that she didn’t have to queue outside.

Once inside she noted a number of eye-catching seasonal displays and felt she could really “take her time” as everyone was keeping their distance.

“Professional” staff escorted her to products she could not find and made good use of handheld devices to provide information about items, stock levels and deliveries. They all wore face masks, aside from the checkout operator, who was behind a clear screen.

The only area of concern was availability with four out of stock products, but that was a common factor across the board this week.

Runner-up Asda had quite a few gaps making shelves look “a bit messy”. But our shopper noted employees at its Walton, Liverpool branch were working “tirelessly” to replenish stock while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The team were “never too far away” when she needed assistance, and took her to items she couldn’t locate herself, no matter how busy they were. The till operator, meanwhile, apologised for the queue and overall, staff made our mystery shopper feel like “nothing was too much trouble”.

Covid-19 measures were strong too, with barriers in-stalled to separate those exiting and entering, an employee at the entrance, social distancing markers, hand and trolley sanitiser and complimentary masks for customers.

It was a mixed bag for Morrisons in Solihull this week, but it had strong coronavirus protocols, including the entire team wearing face masks and hand sanitiser for customers.

Staff played their part to improve the visit, as they helpfully gave our shopper information about why the three out of stock items were not available.

She found the store was “well laid out”, and spotted its attractive Halloween display, but she felt queues around the self-checkouts should have been managed better.

Tesco’s Lewisham superstore had barriers placed at the doors separating its entrance and exit, but no team members monitoring customer numbers, while its hand and trolley cleaning materials were blocked by stacks of stock.

Although most staff were restocking products, the placement of some employees’ trolleys meant customers could not keep a safe distance. Its layout was tricky to follow, leading our shopper to ask for help many times. She spotted three aisles all labelled ‘world foods’.

Broken freezers replaced with temporary ones placed in front of them, additional promotional displays and long checkout queues all made its aisles narrower and therefore social distancing difficult to maintain.

Sainsbury’s in Swindon came bottom of the pile due to a “bad experience” for our mystery shopper, which began with a lack of its own car park and “messy” bundle of trolleys near its entrance.

There was hand sanitiser available, but our shopper was unimpressed staff failed to encourage customers to use it. Other employees chatted amongst themselves rather than clearing the mess on shelves or replenishing gaps.

This came in tandem with seven out of stock lines and one product not stocked.


This week’s results:

WEEK 20: Sunday, 25/10/2020 (1.00pm-4.00pm)    WINNER
  Asda Morrisons Sainsbury’s Tesco Waitrose 
Location Walton, Liverpool Solihull Swindon Lewisham Beaconsfield
Date  25/10/2020 25/10/2020 25/10/2020 25/10/2020 25/10/2020
Time slot  1-4pm 1-4pm 1-4pm 1-4pm 1-4pm
Shop starts 01:00pm 02:55pm 01:00pm 01:20om 02:19pm
Visit Duration 01:06 01:03 00;45 01:05 01:10
Shop Duration 01:01 00:44 00:39 00:57 00:58
Car Park  (10) 10 9 5 8 10
Signposting (up to 1) 1 1 0 1 1
Queueing time to park (up to 2) 2 2 2 2 2
Trolleys (up to 2) 2 2 0 1 2
Queueing time from parking the car to enter the store (up to 3) 3 3 3 3 3
Feedback (up to 2)  2 1 0 1 2
  There were barriers up outside the front of the store to keep those entering and exiting the store apart from each other. It was clear and obvious which way to go in and out. Upon entering the store sanitizer for both trolleys and hands were available and a member of staff was just inside the entrance holding a box of masks for anyone who needed one. Stickers were also in place to provide guidance on social distancing, reminding people to stay 2 metres apart. Member of staff at store front. Hand gel and spray for trolleys available but customers not being asked to use it. No signs seen on floor but notices about distancing apparent. Store is located in town centre, they dont have they own car par. On Sunday’s council car park are free, otherwise you wound need to pay for it. fee trollies were available outside, but not neatly stacked, just a mess.  Barriers were placed outside of the store to create a one way in and out system. There were no staff directing in the card park and no staff outside the store. The car park wasn’t full. It was well signposted and arrows on the ground. The arrows could do with being repainted but it was safe. There was no queueing to get into the carpark. The trolleys were being collected from their collection points around the carpark and being cleaned. As I approached the store, there was a store assistant giving out a trolley to each customer after cleaning it. There was no need for a trolley token or £1. As it wasnt busy, I was allowed to enter the store straight away as directed by the trolley man. There was a sign outside the shop telling people to stay safe.
Store standards (20) 19 16 8 9 18
First impression (up to 5)  4 3 1 1 5
Feedback  My first impression of the store was that it was calm, ordered, clean and with enough space to move around easily. A member of staff was positioned inside the entrance where she could see everyone coming into the store and safety measures were available. Store was not too busy, staff were visible but able to continue with their tasks. Few staff around entrance, but didnt say hello or mentioned to use hand sanitisers. Only a security guard on the door. No store staff. The cleansing station was not clear as it was surrounded by stacks of stock. There was hand sanitiser on the customer service desk at the entrance and the floor was marked out into 2 metre squares with floortape. Then around the store was 2 metre tapes and roundsigns on the floor reminding people of the distance. There was also wall signs. I have shown examples of all of these in the emailed photos. There was no specific one way system. Customers were very respectful of eachother.
Displays (up to 3)  3 2 1 1 3
Availability and replenishment (up to 5)  5 5 0 4 4
Feedback  There were a few empty shelves and a few that looked a bit messy but staff were working tirelessly hard to replenish as quickly as possible. I noticed there were a lot of staff with restocking trolleys, they seemed to keep coming out from the back of the store all the time, and they were filling the shelves up in a number of the aisles Aisles looked tidy and ordered. Floors were clean. Staff were stocking shelves but none were stripped of produce, a few shelves had low stock but would say that is normal for a Sunday afternoon. None of the staff was replenishing any shelves, bad experience overall. Few staff was just standing and chatting to each other. I believe this store is planning to shut in very near future. Most of the staff i saw were refilling shelves. Whilst they were distancing in some areas the placement of trolleys and the end of aisle displays meant that customers could not distance. There were no big gaps. A few items were sold out but there were alternative brand options. There was a lot of staff around the store filling the shelves. Also lots of trolleys in the aisles but the aisles were very wide so they weren’t in the way. Again, I have showed this in the photos.
Obstructions  (up to 3)  3 2 3 0 3
Spillages (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Condition of the store in terms of cleanliness (up to 2)  2 2 1 1 1
Feedback The store standards were excellent. The floor was immaculate, despite the volume of customers it actually looked shiny! There was no mess, litter or anything making the store look unclean . I couldn’t find any fault if I tried. Store felt clean and orderly. Store was clean and no litter or spillage around, but shelves was messy and loads of items was out of stock. Lots of freezers broken with working ones put in front of broken ones. This made the aisles narrower making it hard to distance in places. All aisles had stack displays at the ends. These were not part of the store shelving but additions. Some aisles had 2 of these. This greatly narrowed the ends and made it hard to move around freely and impossible to distance from other shoppers. The store was very clean, spaced and safe. The 2 metre tape markings on the floor were looking a little tatty in places but there is high footfall and no doubt limited time to replace. The store had nice displays, seasonal and offers.
Store layout (10) 8 6 4 2 8
Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (up to 2)  2 2 2 0 2
Was it easy to navigate the store while also feeling safe? (up to 6)  4 2 2 0 4
Did the store offered any Click & Collect services? (up to 2) 2 2 0 2 2
Shop Floor Service (20) 18 17 13 12 17
Product location (up to 5)  5 5 5 3 5
Staff politness/responsiveness (up to 5)  5 4 1 3 4
Feedback Each staff member instinctively accompanied me to the right place to find the products I couldn’t find, even though these were sometimes quite a few aisles away. A couple of the staff members who had been working on replenishment made sure by checking with me that they had found me the correct item. Despite being busy they made me feel like nothing was too much trouble and they were more than happy to help. Very helpful member of staff called Niall helped with telling us about some items not stocked. Asked to find wensleydale cheese, he didn’t know this cheese existed, so he took his personal phone out of pocket and googled. He did have a Sainsbury’s scanner next to him. Just pointed to go to next isle to find it. Not very helpful. Staff answered requests for locations politely and in detail. Especially a lovely man who was stocking the bread aisle. He not only gave me the aisle but the exact location on the aisle. The staff escorted me to the items I couldn’t find and they also looked on their hand held terminals for locations and stock levels. There were lots of staff to ask around the store.
Was it easy to find a member of staff (up to 3)  2 3 2 2 3
Were staff easy to identify through their uniform or name badges (up to 2)  2 2 2 0 2
Staff presentation (up to 5)  4 3 3 4 3
Feedback All staff members maintained a safe social distance Some staff seemed to be nearer than the recommended 2 metres when communicating with staff. They were wearing masks though. 0 Staff were smart but the I spotted a few different uniforms and none were particularly easy to spot. Somer staff had a green (Khaki) uniform which is not the colour i expected. Staff were very professional and kept a distance. ALL had face masks on except 1 till assistant but she was behind a perspex screen. Not all staff wore gloves. Some till asst did and some stock fillers did. I felt it was a safe environment and I have had to be very careful as I was shielding till the end of July. In fact, there was a very nice atmosphere in the shop and I felt I could take my time to find all the items without feeling harrassed.
Tills and checkouts (20) 15 16 17 12 19
 How well managed were the queues leading up to the till-operated checkouts in terms of maintaining order and social distancing?  (up to 2)  1 1 2 0 2
How well managed were the queues leading up to the self-service checkouts in terms of maintaining order and social distancing? (Please observe after you’ve completed your shop, and include observations around attentiveness to customers requiring help due to flashing lights/unattended items in bagging area)  (up to 2)  1 0 2 0 2
 How long did it take to queue (prior to scanning) (up to 4)  2 4 4 4 4
Please rate checkout staff on their customer service and safety  (up to 7)  6 6 6 3 6
Time for G33 items to be scanned (including payment)  (up to 3)  3 3 3 3 3
 Was the till receipt free of mistakes?  (up to 2)  2 2 0 2 2
Feedback - please provide any further details/feedback on the tills and checkout: The man at the checkout acknowledged my presence so I knew when to approach the till to load my shopping on. He made eye contact, said hello and apologised for the long wait in the queue. It took him a little while to scan one of the products, for which he apologised again, but I had hardly noticed as I was trying to keep up with my packing. Once the goods were all scanned he told me I would have to put my card into the machine as the amount was too much for contactless payment, which I did. He said goodbye and told me to enjoy the rest of my day, which I thought was really nice. The self checkout basket tills seemed busy and I felt there should have been more crowd control, particularly as Solihull is tier 2. N/A Not many queues however it was hard to stand out of the was due to the space around the tills. At the self service till there was a hanging perspex screen between each till, again on photos. There was also an assistant guiding customers to each till. At the main tills there was an assistant guiding customers to which till to use. They had lots of tills manned and there were no queues. I walked straight up to the till and unloaded. The asst waited for me to unpack before scanning. There was a perspex surround on each till and sanitiser at the end of each till. The asst was efficient and again, didnt hurry me. For a while, I actually forgot about Covid. The customer service desk had a sign asking customers to step 2 metres away from the desk. Also good floor markings around all tills and staff guiding customers.
Availability score (20) 10 12 5 14 11
 Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:           
Available (up to 20) 27 28 25 28 28
Out of stock (-2 per item) 4 3 7 1 4
Not stocked (-1 per item) 2 2 1 4 1
Availability % 87.1 90.3 78.1 96.6 87.5
Please note down the items on your shopping list that were out of stock (please highlight the products that have managed to get a satisfactory substitutions) Young’s chip shop lighter 2 large fillets

Own label UHT skimmed milk 6x1000ml (substituted with 1x1000ml single carton)

Mars ice cream

Herta 10 chicken frankfurters, 350g (substituted with herta 10 original flavour frankfurters, 350g)
Hertz 10 chicken frankfurters, got pork instead.

Herbal essences shampoo, got a different blend.

Wensleydale cheese, we got Wensleydale with cranberries.
PG tips (didnt get substitutions)

Youngs chip shop 2 large cod - replaced by Chip shop 4 cod filets

Thachers Somerset haze - Thatchers rose x4

Cadburys crunchy melts - Cadbury time out

Nescafe azera expresso - Nescafe americano

Baxters crinkle beetroot - Horseradish bettroots

Warburton bagels - New York bagels
Mixed chillies were out of stock. There were no satisfactory substitutes. Chillies (only Jalepeno and Thai chillies),

Regina Blitz (only 140 and 200 sheets),

Pitta White (had wholemeal)

Thin bagels (no plain, only raisin and cinnamon)

I didn’t buy any substitutes but everything had options.
Please note down the items on your shopping list that were not stocked (please highlight the products that have managed to get a satisfactory substitutions)  Pg tips pyramid tea bags x 40 (substituted with x80 pack size)

Baxter’s crinkle cut beetroot, 405g drained, substituted with same product, 207g drained size
Youngs Chip shop lighter 2 large cod filletes.

Itsu vegetable fusion gyoza dumplings Did not substitute either
Itsu veg fusion gyoza No Flaked Almonds. Whole almonds available.

No Macaroni pasta. Substituted with small spiral pasta.

No trimmed fine green beans. Substituted with fine green beans.

Substituted herbal essence bio renew with an available scent.
Basmati rice 500g, only 1kg. I didn’t buy any substitutes but again there were options.
Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad It was a successful shopping trip in a nice, calm environment. I was able to find most items easily enough but a friendly member of staff was never far away when I needed one. I can’t think of much that could have made it a better experience other than maybe putting a few extra staff on the tills so that there was no need to queue at the checkout, but overall I would be happy to shop here again. There seemed to be plenty of staff on the shop floor. Lovely Hallowe’en displays. The children’s clothing section looked pretty. Well laid out store. No queues for anything. Loads of items where out of stock, bread isle was completely empty, only few loafs left. Store did not follow a logical order and I had to ask for help multiple time. There were 3 aisles of ‘world food’ with no subcategories. No one way system, but 2 metre floor markings all round the store, plus reminder circles about 2 metre distance (I have shown these on the photos I have emailed.) There was also posters on walls. One lady was collecting her order as I walked past the customer service desk.

The coffee bar area was closed. I don’t know if it is normally open. The coffee machine was also closed. Very safe store with good spacing. The chocolate orange wasn’t with the confectionery but in the seasonal area. The member of staff had to show me. Lots of staff available to help customers all round the store,
TOTAL SCORE (100) 80 76 52 57 83