Morrisons’ Eccles store in Manchester was the shining light this week as rivals struggled with disappointing store standards, mixed customer levels and patchy availability.
Morrisons took the win – its first since late May – with a score of 74 points. This was 16 marks more than its closest challenger.
Our mystery shopper reported a smooth shopping experience throughout the “clean and well stocked” store. She enjoyed the good lighting and music level and described the staff as having “a sense of purpose”.
The first member of staff she approached for help directed her to a specific aisle that turned out to be incorrect. However, the second located the required item using a handheld device and walked to find it with our shopper. On a third occasion, a different staffer went to the stockroom and came back with an item similar to what she had requested.
In terms of availability, there were two out-of-stock items and two not stocked.
The tidy store was small, but our shopper struggled to find staff for assistance. However, they proved “very helpful” once located, and the checkout assistant was “lovely and very friendly”. This all added up to a total of 58 points.
Taking third spot was Asda in Walsall with 47 points. Our shopper’s trip started badly with a complicated car park that was hard to navigate and full of litter. One of the store’s doors was blocked off, leaving a narrow entrance and exit that created a bottleneck of shoppers.
Her problems continued with numerous seemingly abandoned restocking trolleys in the aisles. This, combined with staff carrying out shopping for online orders, often led to congestion.
Only one of our shopper’s four interactions with staff was positive – the other three showed little interest.
The score was also hampered by poor availability: four items were out of stock.
Fourth-placed Waitrose Yateley had three out-of-stock items, while one wasn’t stocked. With a score of 43, this was another store that wasn’t as tidy as it could have been. The foyer had dead leaves and flower heads on the floor, as well as bits of paper and dirt. The store was easy to navigate apart from one cage left in an aisle, which created trolley traffic jams.
Again, here, staff interactions ranged from the helpful to the borderline dismissive. One staff member took our shopper to an item’s location and checked for stock his handset, while another pointed out the location from the end of the aisle and a third merely pointed, saying “if we’ve got it, it’ll be over there”.
Our shopper who visited last-placed Sainsbury’s in Reading said she had “a very disappointing shopping experience”, resulting in a score of just 29. While some of this could be down to it being a smaller town centre supermarket without a car park and limited range, there were other factors that left our shopper less than satisfied.
Nine products were not stocked, with six out of stock.
Our shopper said the store had the “most unintuitive and illogical layout” she had ever experienced. There were several half-unpacked restocking trolleys blocking aisles, and cardboard was left on the floor.
One staff member was very helpful, but our shopper felt two other “unapproachable” staffers avoided her eye contact.