Morrisons aisle bakery bread

Staff at Morrisons went out of their way to help our mystery shopper

Morrisons picked up its fourth Grocer 33 store of the week award in the past 10 weeks, in a sign that the Rami Baitiéh era is bearing fruit in store standards.

The retailer’s Chapel-en-le-Frith store was well ahead of the pack with a score of 84.

The strong performance was largely due to the excellent in-store team. All staff approached by our shopper were able to offer immediate assistance or went to greater lengths to respond to her requests.

The cherry on top was an interaction with Paul the duty manager (see right). Having checked the systems to try and find the almond butter, he found it was not stocked.

Paul told our shopper he would put in a request to start stocking it “so that they had it for the next time I visited”. The move, which feels straight from the Baitiéh playbook, really impressed our experienced mystery shopper: “This is the first time a member of staff has offered to start stocking the product I was asking about.”

Availability was strong throughout the store, with only a small number of noticeable gaps. Our shopper took 30 items home, with one out-of-stock and two not-stocked lines.

Runner-up Sainsbury’s Ashton-under-Lyne came in 11 marks behind with a score of 73.

The biggest issue was availability: our shopper only managed to take home 28 items due to three out-of-stocks on top of two not-stocked lines.

But this wasn’t reflective of the wider availability in the store, which was described as “well-stocked and orderly”.

Although busy on our Sunday morning visit, the store was easy to navigate and goods were largely placed in logical places.

Our shopper found plenty of staff on hand to help with queries, and everyone she spoke to was “friendly, helpful and smart in appearance”.

One staff member in particular went well out of his way to help when our shopper couldn’t find the frozen pastry. He had a good look but was sure the item was not available in the store. After our shopper had moved on, he came and offered her an alternative option.

Tesco Swindon had the strongest availability this week, with only one not-stocked line.

However, the store only managed 68 marks. Our shopper was not impressed by what she described as “rude personal shoppers”, who added to several obstructions that made getting around the store tricky.

One of these online shoppers blocked an aisle by leaving a trolley in the middle without apology, while another “just blocked me in”.

Nine out-of-stocks at Waitrose in Epsom was a key reason the store notched up just 44 points. Those availability issues were reflected in the patchy fruit & veg and seasonal aisles.

However, staff were generally helpful, including the customer service assistant who released a trolley for our shopper who didn’t have the requisite £1 coin.

Last-placed Asda in Eastleigh fared even worse with just 34 points. There were two out-of-stocks as well as six not-stocked items. The major problem, however, was standards across the “busy and unpleasant” store.

The trolley bays were all full and untidy, and this theme continued throughout the store. Our shopper observed many shelves were empty, with cardboard boxes filling up space.

Meanwhile, products were not neatly stacked and the crisps aisle was full of spoiled food on the floor, as was the discounted food section.

Our shopper also noted many trolleys causing obstructions in the aisles.