Sainsburys pizza counter

Source: Mystery shopper

In a highly competitive week for service and availability, Sainsbury’s edged out Tesco and Waitrose by just one point.

Its Farlington, Portsmouth store took the win thanks to being “clean, well maintained and well cared for”.

Our mystery shopper was happy to find there were no outside queues. Safe distances were also maintained by team members greeting customers and giving out SmartShop scanners.

Plenty of employees were available throughout her visit, and were “polite and helpful” when responding to her queries and managed self-checkout queues well. Their efforts throughout her trip made our shopper feel safe.

Sainsbury’s also had “attractive and well-stocked” displays of its home and Christmas ranges. The only letdown was its chilled section, which had several gaps, and staff working to replenish the chilled produce did not adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Tesco and Waitrose both provided strong customer service.

The team at Tesco in Rutherglen, Glasgow ensured the store was calm and ordered, and were “very helpful” when directing the mystery shopper to items she couldn’t find due to its “confusing layout”.

She was pleased to see plenty of employees around, all of which wore masks and kept their distance. Checkout queues were well managed too, while the cashier was “friendly” and served our shopper quickly.

Safety and hygiene measures were a strong point too, with a traffic light entry and exit system installed to manage customer flow. Our mystery shopper found the store “clean and well presented” overall and felt safe throughout her visit.

Its availability didn’t fare so well, however, as it had a handful of empty areas, despite staff working to replenish stock.

Our Waitrose mystery shopper queued for close to 10 minutes outside its Brackley, Northamptonshire store and was pleased to see social distancing markers on the ground, a security guard monitoring customer numbers and staff cleaning trolleys and baskets.

Shelves were well stocked due to partners focusing on replenishment, although restocking trolleys caused obstructions.

Staff showed strong customer service skills, but Waitrose lost marks due to some partners not wearing face masks.

Morrisons Shrewsbury, Shropshire took fourth place this week. There was no hand sanitiser or staff presence at its entrance, and barriers placed to separate its entrance and exit had been cast aside.

Pallets with boxes of beer and chocolates made its entrance “very cramped” and the mystery shopper was “taken aback” by how untidy the supermarket was, as the several empty fridges and shelves she spotted were dirty.

Team members were a redeeming feature as they were “pleasant and polite” and helped our shopper find items, but “too many” online order pickers obstructed her and other customers, making social distancing difficult.

Last place went to Asda in Wolstanton, Stoke-on-Trent as customers and employees got too close to our shopper owing to its narrow aisles, while many team members were not wearing face coverings.

But staff were its saving grace proving “friendly and helpful” when directing our shopper to items. A new member of staff “made her day” by helping her read shelf-edge labels and the checkout operator carefully scanned her shopping.


This week’s results:

WEEK 23: Sunday, 15/10/2020 (11.00am - 2.00pm)  WINNER  
  Asda Morrisons Sainsbury’s Tesco Waitrose 
Location Wolstanton, Stoke on Trent Shrewsbury Farlington Rutherglen Brackley
Date  15/11/2020 15/11/2020 15/11/2020 15/11/2020 15/11/2020
Time slot  11am - 2.00pm 11am - 2.00pm 11am - 2.00pm 11am - 2.00pm 11am - 2.00pm
Shop starts 11:16am 12:37pm 01:32pm 11.11am 13:25pm
Visit Duration 01:26 01:25 00:52 00:43 01:02
Shop Duration 01:16 01:17 00:50 00:37 00:50
Car Park  (10) 9 5 10 10 9
Signposting (up to 1) 1 1 1 1 1
Queueing time to park (up to 2) 2 0 2 2 2
Trolleys (up to 2) 2 1 2 2 2
Queueing time from parking the car to enter the store (up to 3) 3 3 3 3 2
Feedback (up to 2)  1 0 2 2 2
  There wasn’t a queue, either for cars or people. There was a chap at the door, I presume in case a surge of customers appeared, but as there were very few we just drifted in. There was a sanitising station for trolleys and a hand sanitizer for customers - but several people just by passed them both !! There were markings on the ground at 2 metre intervals and notices asking us to keep apart. There was a one way system with the main doors and directing customers out via the other end of the atrium entrance. The centre of the atrium was blocked off so no one could go the wrong way. The entrance to the store was not manned and therefor nobody was counting the people that were entering. There was barriers to one side of the entrance but it appeared that they had been blown over or cast aside. There was no queue for the store but there was clear evidence of guidance on social distancing. The car was small however it was a good size for the store, it was well laid out and signposted. I didnt have to queue to enter the car park and there was only a small queue to leave. There were plenty of trolleys available at the entrance to the store. I didnt have to queue to go into the shop and they had a traffic light system over the door, green lights for when you could go in and red for when you couldnt, i felt this was a good way of managing the number of customers. There was also a sanitising station as you entered the store to clean the trolley. Queued for 8 minutes to enter store - social distancing markers on ground outside of store. security guard overseeing entrance - managing queue. safety chain barrier between queue and car park
Store standards (20) 11 4 16 18 17
First impression (up to 5)  3 0 4 4 4
Feedback  The entrance was devoid of its usual mounds of special offers to try and prevent customers stopping and blocking the entrance & exit. On entering the store, it seemed a little “busy” with piles of sweets and it may have seemed more crowded as three staff were busy stocking this area, complete with pallet lifter/mover shifting huge numbers of Heroes, Quality Street, & Roses. In the rest of the store there was no checking of distancing or any one way system. I didn’t notice that any hand sanitising equipment was available or as previously mentioned a member of staff wasn’t available at the door to ask about hand sanitiser. The Foyer did however have an attractive floral stand selling flowers but there were a couple of ‘Caution - wet floor’ yellow signs cluttering the foyer that didn’t need to be there. Immediately on entering the store through a second set of doors it was poorly lit, felt very cramped because of oversized pallets of boxed beer piled too high, a random rail of fleeces, an unappealing, nearly empty shelf of pastries and a further crates of Christmas tubs of sweets amongst empty cardboard that looked extremely untidy and unwelcoming. The cafe (obviously currently closed) was barriered off with another tall tower of boxed beer. As I entered the store there was one colleague greeting customers and a second handing out scanners. There was no queue to get in the store and plenty of space to move around safely upon entry. There were stickers on the floor at various places to show the 2m distance, the sanitiser and wipes were available on entering the store, and there were staff at the tills helping to make sure people maintained a safe distance Fresh flowers and garden bulbs in entrance to store - clean and fresh - once inside the store well-lit customer service desk immediately in front - manned by staff member. reminder of Christmas approaching with signage to order turkey online and a display of Christmas favourite with third off.
Displays (up to 3)  0 0 3 3 3
Availability and replenishment (up to 5)  3 2 3 4 4
Feedback  There were some areas where stock was almost gone, I got the impression the lorry was due. Apart from the girls stocking the sweets, there was one other chap adding stock in the pasta sauce area. The Tassimo shelf was empty. At the end of almost all the vegetable stands there were boxes that needed to be unpacked to replenish the depleting shelves. This made it difficult for people to pass through with trolleys at a safe distance. The boxes didn’t need to be taking up valuable floor space especially in the fruit and veg section of the store. It was a very over populated area and the space was desperately needed as shoppers were trying to navigate around the shelves. There were a couple of members of staff filling shelves but not quickly enough and no attention was being payed to the lots and lots of boxes taking up floor space. The amount of empty cardboard on the shelves in all areas around the store and on the floor was astonishing, making the shelves appear very disheveled and difficult to find numerous items on the list. Some products appeared to be out of stock at first glance. On several occasions I had to root around the shelves, through empty card board to find the products on the list. This was the same when looking for the calamari in the frozen cabinets. They were mixed in with the scampi and it took me about 5 minutes to find the calamari. The chilled area wasn’t as well stocked as other departments and the colleagues working in this area were not customer aware. The end of one aisle they had boxes laid out on the floor and trolleys either side causing an obstruction making it difficult for customers to navigate. There were gaps in fresh produce but colleagues were working hard to get produce displayed and were customer aware. There were some empty areas in different parts of the store, however there seemed to be a lot of staff working on replenishing stock in some of these areas. The staff made sure to work around shoppers so they were maintaining an appropriate distance while still getting the stock put on the shelves, the meat aisle was very busy with shoppers and staff when i went down but they did well to give as much space to the customers as they could The shelves were well stocked - a lot of staff activity in the aisles replenishing / marking goods down. chill unit displaying third off equivalent of a Sunday roast (joint of meat chic / beef /pork - stuffing - gravy - assorted prepared veg - deserts) - really important given the hard financial times that we are experiencing at present 25% off prepared Indian and oriental ready meals fresh fish counter displaying 20% off fish on Fridays refreshingly the deli & fish counter and bakery all open - not the norm at present in many stores Christmas card and chocs on offer
Obstructions  (up to 3)  2 0 2 3 2
Spillages (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Condition of the store in terms of cleanliness (up to 2)  1 0 2 2 2
Feedback The store was OK, but the aisles are very narrow and in the present situation I think I realised this more acutely. There was some Christmas stock appearing, but not a lot. The windows & general appearance was clean and well maintained. It looked unusual as of course the fresh counters (meat, fish, deli) were all cleared and empty. There were a couple of pickers around collecting for home delivery, but as they obviously know the store so well, they were not in the way - they weren’t there long enough !! One chap was particularly speedy, to the extent he made me smile every time he zoomed past me. I was taken a back by how untidy the store was. Every aisle had littler and cardboard on the floor, trolleys with empty cardboard just abandoned, too many online store pickers obstructing the fruit and veg section especially, several empty fridges that were dirty and looked unattractive, too many big pallets at the end of aisles with products piled up too wide and high. The shelves looked extremely untidy with cardboard and empty boxes. The store was clean, well maintained and free from litter. It looked well cared for with high standards. There were several trolleys in the aisles for restacking the shelves however these were kept in at the side or put somewhere as out of the way as they could manage, this only really caused a slight problem in very busy aisles but the problem seemed to be caused by other customers rather than the staf/trolleys, the store was very clean i never noticed any spillages, leaks etc Store clean and predominantly well stocked a few restocking trollies and boxes in the aisles - not always attended but staff were very busy attending to customers and restocking. reduced stock in end of refrigerated area and trolley at end of aisle with reduced pickling items
Store layout (10) 4 3 7 5 7
Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (up to 2)  2 1 1 1 1
Was it easy to navigate the store while also feeling safe? (up to 6)  0 0 4 4 4
Did the store offered any Click & Collect services? (up to 2) 2 2 2 0 2
Shop Floor Service (20) 12 17 19 17 17
Product location (up to 5)  3 5 5 3 5
Staff politness/responsiveness (up to 5)  4 4 5 5 4
Feedback Staff were great, very cheerful and friendly - but none wearing masks !! No name badges visible on anyone, except the chap on the till (more of him later). I asked for help with a few items and they were all very helpful. Staff were helpful if I needed help finding an item. Stacey in the Bakery section went out to the back twice to look for 2 different items on the list for me. The bakery section was untidy, the shelves were looking very sparse but there were crates of loaves etc on the floor surrounding the shelves that needed to be urgently replenished. There were two staff in bakery doing this but not hastily enough and weren’t clearing cardboard, general mess, crates and trolleys at the sometime. On a separate occasion in the fruit and veg when I need help locating radishes Steve went off to ask a colleague if they had any stock. He returned saying that they didn’t, however I later found a huge crate of said radishes clear as day on one of the shelves. Staff were polite and helpful, checking hand held devices and out the back. They were apologetic and empathetic. The staff were very helpful when i spoke to them, they were able to direct me to the correct location for items i couldnt find. Most of the time i was in the right aisle but just couldnt see the item so they were able to point me in the right direction or let me know if it wasnt there they didnt have it Staff really helpful - located items and also checked out back for stock not on display
Was it easy to find a member of staff (up to 3)  2 3 3 3 3
Were staff easy to identify through their uniform or name badges (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Staff presentation (up to 5)  1 3 4 4 3
Feedback I spoke to 4 members of staff, one lass 3 times ! I cannot give specific praise as I don’t have names. The lady on fruit & veg directed me to the grapes which were on the aisle end. (I must admit - the fruit and veg section was weird. Some fruit, then salad, then veg !! Usually they are all in major sections.) There was a young man with an amazing mop of frizzy hair, and I asked him for the shampoo. He admitted it was not his area but got an answer for me almost straight away. The Calamari proved elusive. The lady on frozen said, “oh it’s not there”, then remembered “just a minute I know where it is”. She whizzed round the corner and came back with it, apparently it was in the “to be discontinued” fridge. There was a young girl with bright green hair (!) and I discovered she was quite new. Well, she is already a huge asset for this store. She was friendly, polite and knew where all the stock was. I admitted that I had forgotten my glasses, and when later she saw me peering at some labels, came over and said “do you need my eyes again?”. Made my day, she did. I wish I knew her name. In the areas that there was room to do so, the staff kept a safe social distance. In the fruit and veg aisle - there wasn’t the room because of the copious amounts of unpacked boxes taking up valuable floor space. N/A There were a lot of staff on the floor so it was easy to find someone to help me. Most staff were wearing masks, i didnt notice any wearing gloves. All staff i encountered were keeping a safe distance frommyself when helping and other shoppers in general. 3 staff members were not wearing a mask - only staff replenishing freezer cabinet and on tills were wearing gloves . staff locating items for me were wearing masks but not social distancing - however not that easy to do in the aisles when there are oter shoppers too. all staff really pleasant and helpful.
Tills and checkouts (20) 12 15 17 19 20
 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 1 2 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 1 2 2 2
 How long did it take to queue (prior to scanning) (up to 4)  2 2 4 4 4
Please rate checkout staff on their customer service and safety  (up to 7)  4 6 5 6 7
Time for G33 items to be scanned (including payment)  (up to 3)  2 3 3 3 3
 Was the till receipt free of mistakes?  (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Feedback - please provide any further details/feedback on the tills and checkout: I met Dylan ! He was fine, but seemed to want to chat which with the screen, distance and in store music (not what I’d call it !) it was very hard to hear him. He asked if I’d like any help and was careful with the goods. He didn’t rush everything through which was good, I had a chance to pack - not throw everything in. There were virtually no queues so managing distance etc wasn’t a problem. Lou was polite and articulate. She asked if I was okay packing my bags and was friendly. I felt as though the till area could be less cluttered. There was a random stand of batteries, wrapping paper, Bags for Life, disused shopping baskets and some magazines all in front of the shelves selling healthy confectionary. The member of staff was really friendly asking how I was and waiting for me to pack my bag. There wasn’t any evidence of queue management by a staff member but there was tape on the floor and customers were social distancing without issue. The self checkouts were well managed and the customers appeared to be using them quickly and successfully. The shop was quiet when i was in so there were no queues at the checkouts or self scan areas however there was a member of staff keeping an eye on things. There were cashiers on at all or the available tills meaning there was a good choice to help maintain distance. There were screens up to help protect the staff and shoppers. The cashier who served me was very friendly and efficient. It was a very smooth and quick checkout experience for myself and seemed to be the same for the other shoppers at the time Free store magazines displayed at checkout - displays of Waitrose shopper bags for purchase - only issue with checkouts no conveyor to put food on to travel to you to be packed - either leaning round the screen to reach goods to pack or fruit rolling down to you and bruising
Availability score (20) 11 18 14 13 12
 Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:           
Available (up to 20) 28 32 30 26 27
Out of stock (-2 per item) 4 1 3 0 2
Not stocked (-1 per item) 1 0 0 7 4
Availability % 87.5 97.0 90.9 100.0 93.1
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) Tassimo coffee

Wholewheat spaghetti

Own label sweet potato fries

Pukka Chai tea bags
New York Bagels (5) - I purchased New York Sesame bagels instead (5) Cauliflower

Alpro Almond Milk (there was unsweetened version available)

Red Grapefruit
N/A Galaxy caramel - oos - sub - galaxy

Tassimo kenoc americano -oos
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)  Neither I or the assistant could find the Sundried tomatoes with herbs. She said she had actually not heard of it, so thought they didn’t stock it. N/A N/A Jazz Apples

Red onions- only loose available

Galbani Mozzerella

Lincolnshire Sausages- Tesco finest pork bought as a substitute

Bloo Acticlean citrus blocks- original blue bought instead of citrus as substitute

Pukka Chai Tea- Tesco finest chai bought as substitute

Youngs Calamari
Brewdog hazy - not stocked - sub clockwork/ tangarine

Own label s/ pot fries - not stocked - sub - strong roots s/pot fries

Sundried tom/ herbs - not stocked - sub - sundried tomatoes

Sorren lge fruit loaf - not stocked - sub - Soreen sliced loaf
Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad Narrow aisles, and no one way system but also no special displays and certainly no sampling, so they were keeping what space they had clear. The signage was very basic above each aisle eg: pet food & wrappings, or tea, coffee and biscuits. The layout was pretty standard and I found my way around fairly easily.
A reasonable shop, made better by my helpful friend with green hair. Thanks to her I found 3 items and saved a lot of time. Not the best laid out store and in the present climate I was aware of people quite close round me. I would like them to make sure all staff wear masks (my helpful lady did).
The shop did not appear overcrowded with people but did with pallets and crates and boxes, all taking up too much floor space which didn’t allow for a smooth, safe, flow around the store. All staff were pleasant and polite and appeared busy but this did not account for the workers clearing/tidying/restocking fast enough as they worked. The produce was available, but not neatly presented on the shelves in nearly all aisles. There was a really good display of home products which looked Christmassy. There was also a really well stocked Christmas Aisle which looked appealing. There were lots of available staff in the store and the store felt safe to shop in as looked really clean and well maintained. To me the layout of the store was confusing, it might have been due to the size but bread was just after fruit and veg then frozen stuff was in the aisle just after, im used to these being nearer the end of my shop so they dont defrost or get squashed so i had to double back at the end for frozen items. I had to use the signage a few times to locate things as they werent quite where i expected them to be, saying that i think they have made good use of the space they had and there was more available that i was expecting, like clothing and christmas decorations. There was tape on the floors in some of the shop but no one way system, but the aisles were all wide enough to pass people if they had stopped or were coming the other direction.

Overall this was a very good shop, although the layout wasnt what i was used to it stocked more items than i thought it would and a wider variety of things, it seems like a very good convenient store for the people in the area. It was well presented and clean. I felt safe the whole time i was shopping there.
C&C available. Also, able to collect John Lewis orders from customer service desk.

On leaving store staff were located next to used baskets spraying and cleaning them. in car park 2 trolley bays one for clean and one for used - staff member spraying down used trolleys and relocating to clean bay.

Really impressed how Waitrose caters for vegetarians and vegans and free from - every aisle chilled / fresh / dry store has products applicable to those catagories. A fantastic array of choice 10 out of 10 by far the best supermarket to promote this range of food choices

TOTAL SCORE (100) 59 62 83 82 82