Morrisons has won its first Grocer 33 store of the week award since early December, racking up a score of 91 thanks to a striking refit and its “calm” team.
Our mystery shopper said Morrisons’ Hookstone Chase store in Harrogate had previously been “dingy and cramped” but was now “bright, open and spacious”.
She was impressed by the eye-catching signage, which gave each department its “own presence” and made a “huge difference” to the in-store experience.
Staff went the extra mile, positioning restocking trolleys to one side while replenishing shelves and keeping the shop floor clean. The store also delivered the only full basket of 33 items this week.
Availability was similarly strong at runner-up Waitrose in Meanwood, Leeds. There weren’t any out-of-stock items and the store only missed out on a full basket due to three not-stocked lines.
However, our shopper noted the branch was difficult to navigate due to “cramped” aisles, made worse by several unmanned restocking trolleys and a “huge” queue for the click & collect service.
Waitrose also suffered the lowest customer service score this week, with 16 out of 20.
There were long queues for the checkouts, trailing back to one of the aisles, but Waitrose’s score was bumped up thanks to the checkout operator efficiently swapping a bruised melon for a better quality one.
Third-placed Tesco in Three Bridges, Crawley, had the worst availability this week, with three out-of-stocks in contrast to a “very good shopping experience” overall.
Customer service struck a chord with our shopper, with staff happy to help him locate items and quickly cleaning up spillages. The checkout operator also greeted him cheerfully, handled his products carefully and was quick to cancel a SKU that was scanned twice.
Our shopper at Sainsbury’s store in Headingley had a frustrating start to her shopping experience. The store doesn’t have its own car park and she ended up having to park in an on-street space about five minutes’ away. This then caused her a fair bit of trouble on the return journey, when laden down with heavy shopping bags.
She found most items easy to find thanks to intuitive signage and helpful staff. However, the branch didn’t stock 10 of the items on our list, while one was out of stock.
Sainsbury’s was the only grocer to get full marks for its shop floor service owing to employees’ efforts to find items. A confusing wait for the checkouts, driven by a lack of manned tills, resulted in the manager opening a checkout specifically for our shopper, and she received “friendly, efficient” service from the operator.
Last-placed Asda started strong with no outside queue and well-executed Covid-19 safety measures, including a member of staff offering each customer hand sanitiser.
But as our mystery shopper made her way around the busy Smithdown Road branch in Liverpool, she found its shelves were messy and aisles were “tightly packed”, which made her feel unsafe.
She also spotted some availability issues in the store, particularly in the produce section. However, there was only one out-of-stock on our list.
She heaped praise on employees, who provided “excellent” service, pointing her in the direction of items she needed, while one escorted her to a product’s location.
This week’s results:
|WEEK 31: SUNDAY 24/01/2021 (1.00pm-4.00pm)||WINNER|
|Time slot||1pm - 4pm||1pm - 4pm||1pm - 4pm||1pm - 4pm||1pm - 4pm|
|Car Park (10)||9||10||8||10||7|
|Car park management (3)||2||3||1||3||2|
|Queueing time to park and finding a parking space (2)||2||2||2||2||2|
|Exiting the car park (2)||2||2||2||2||1|
|After exiting your car please rate your experience before entering the store? (3)||3||3||3||3||2|
|Feedback||No queue at store entrance. Impressed to see that a member of staff was employed to offer each shopper a squirt of anti-bacterial gel||Well maintained, no litter or stray trollies. There were trollies in the bays, but also sufficient at the store entrance.||Note there was no car park at all for this store. There is not an awful lot of street parking either as the store is located on a busy main road. I had to veer off the main road and find a parking space there. Some of the surrounding streets are resident parking permits only but I struck lucky and managed to find a space. The store was around five minutes walk away. (Which seemed like 50 minutes walk with the heavy bags on the way back). Upon entry to the store they had two security guards patrolling the store and several members of staff around the entrance. There was a sanitising station in the entrance of the store. Helpful signage was dotted around the store regarding safety guidelines.||Plenty of spaces and trolleys||There was a person at the door entrance counting people entering and leaving but there was no queue to manage|
|Store standards (20)||8||17||14||16||17|
|First impression (6)||2||6||4||6||6|
|Fruit & vegetables section (3)||0||3||3||3||3|
|Store standards - remaining sections (3)||1||2||3||2||3|
|Feedback||Quite busy, messy shelves.||This store has had a recent overhaul and it’s made a huge difference on the in-store experience. What used to be a dingy, cramped entrance, has been transformed into a bright, open, spacious area. The changes to the layout have had a really positive impact on my first impressions of the store. Customer services is now on the left and a new takeaway barista/cafe bar has replaced it on the right. It feels cleaner, more modern and uptodate.||Store standards were generally excellent and it looked clean and tidy. Generally the availability was good too and staff were working to replenish shelves. There only appeared to be one obstruction by a trolley otherwise despite being a small store, and very busy due to being located in a high footfall area for students, I managed to navigate my way round without being too frustrated by trolley obstructions or other customers. There was a spillage in the prepared vegetable section however a staff member was tending to this.||Seemed to be plenty of staff, there were two spillages both were cleaned up straight away.||Attractive displays promoting ecological prodcuts on entry. Lots of vegan displays for Veganuary. It’s a small store and very cramped so any unmanned trolleys couldn’t help but cause an obstruction, especially when trying to keep a safe distance from other shoppers.|
|Store layout and services (10)||8||10||8||7||9|
|Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (4)||2||4||4||3||3|
|Available services (6)||6||6||4||4||6|
|Feedback||Huge store but seemed tightly packed aisles..not a great feeling of space||The store has been transformed by the addition of ‘zoned’ areas - what I mean by that is that it’s really obvious where each of the special areas are - Food to Go, Hot Food, The Pie Shop, Pizza, Salad and Soup, Deli, Fishmonger, Butcher. They have bespoke signage but this doesn’t detract,it just gives each area it’s own presence around the perimeter of the store. The different coloured tiles behind the fish counter and butchers again helps to zone off these areas, whilst still having something in common. The entire store feels cleaner, bigger and more contemporary. Gluten free and Free from has an aisle to itself including a chilled cabinet so you don’t need to hunt all around the store for GF products. There’s an excellent World Food selection. Meanwhile the Beers, Wine and Spirits section has been transformed - now sitting at a right angle to the aisles, it’s a wide area, nicely diving with bespoke racking and a larger chiller cabinet (this had beer in, it could also have had a selection of wine in too). The Frozen section has also been totally updated with floor to ceiling cabinets, well stocked and well signposted.||This was only a relatively small store so it didn’t have any of the counters or services which most of the larger stores have. Despite this there was a good selection of essentials and I found the signs to be logical and intuitive. There was a Valentines card stand in the entrance. There were plenty of appealing looking promotions on gondola ends.||Store layout is easy to navigate. large overhead signage||The queue for click and collect was huge. Aisles are not wide enough to pass safely but it’s a such a small store, I’m not sure what else they could do|
|Shop Floor Service (20)||18||19||20||19||16|
|Finding a member of staff (5)||3||5||5||5||5|
|Shop floor staff helpfulness in locating items (5)||5||5||5||4||3|
|Shop floor staff diligence and hard work in replenishing shelves and picking in-store orders (5)||5||4||5||5||4|
|Staff presentation (5)||5||5||5||5||4|
|Feedback||3 were quite helpful (pointing to aisle locations) and 1 took me to the location and helped me search, also looking in stock room.||The store was quite busy at the time of my shop, but the staff did their best to restock at the same time as being thoughtful about where they positioned the stock trays. They were also under the added pressure of a countrywide error with contactless payments, meaning you had either to pay using chip and pin or in cash. Fortunately I was aware of the problem before I started my shop so took cash just in case. As it turned out, I was able to pay contactless by the time I finished my shop. Despite these problems and the busy nature of the shop, my dealings with the lady on CS who I later saw had switch to working on the self service tills was excellent, she in particular was pleasant, calm and helpful.||There were lots of staff members working so I didn’t have to go out of my way to find them. Shop staff were helpful and pointed out products. In most cases I was actually already on the correct aisle I just needed pointing out where specifically certain products were situated. Cam, Eleanor and Jack were the staff members who assisted me today. They were all friendly and helpful. All were easily identifiable and busy restocking shelves. They were all presentable and represented the store well.||Lots of staff about and was helpful when looking for an item I couldn’t find.||All staff now wear black and didn’t see any name badges so it’s not always obvious who is staff and who isn’t. There seemed to be plenty about though. I asked an older gentleman where the Actimelwas and he didn’t come with me but directed me to the right place. He was pleasant.|
|Tills and checkouts (20)||13||15||18||16||15|
|Rate how well managed were the queues leading to the tills? Were a sufficient number of checkouts open for the volume of staff? Were staff on hand to advise on checkouts with shorter queues, or manage social distancing (5)||2||3||5||5||3|
|How long did you have to queue? (5)||3||3||4||5||3|
|Please rate checkout staff on their customer service (8)||6||7||7||6||7|
|Was the till receipt free of mistakes? (2)||2||2||2||0||2|
|Feedback||Queueing system a bit of a free for all.||There were 10 self service tills, 4 self service with a Ionger belt and 14 manned tils, of which only 7 were staffed. This lead to a bit of a backlog and people queueing down the aisles (not the best when trying to maintain social distancing guidelines). More open tills would have improved this problem. I was served by Elise, who was chatty and pleasant despite the problems they were having with the contactless payments.||There were 12 checkouts altogether but 8 of these were self service. There looked like there were nobody serving on the four checkouts initially - most customers had baskets and were going to the self service checkouts which looked to have fairly chunky queues - so I started to queue for the kiosk which only had one person being served ahead of me however I had a trolley and was questioning my ability to be served with so many items at the kiosk. A manager spotted me in the meanwhile and asked a female staff member Ellerby to open the checkouts. Ellerby then served me. They were friendly and and processed the transaction quickly and efficiently. They asked if I had a Nectar card. The till receipt was free from mistakes.||Chocolate was scanned twice. Item had to be cancelled. No waiting around at the til even though the shop was busy.||There were big queues for the checkouts but they were being effectively managed and moved quickly. One of the queues trailed back through one of the main aisles, making it difficult to shop that aisle whilst keeping a safe distance. The woman on the till looked to be freezing and was hugging herself (it was very cold in store. I had to zip up my coat even though I had another 2 layers on underneath) I noticed when I got to the till that my melon was bruised and soft so asked if it could be replaced. This was done quickly and was no problem.|
|Availability score (20)||6||20||0||8||14|
|Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:|
|Available (up to 20)||27||33||22||30||30|
|Out of stock (-4 per item)||1||0||1||3||0|
|Not stocked (-2 per item)||5||0||10||0||3|
|Total number of items bought||27||33||28||30||32|
|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)||Product 1: Tia Maria||N/A||Product 1: Tia Maria Coffee Liquer 700ml||Product 1: Castello Extra Creamy Brie 200g
Product 2: Own Label Free From Lasagne Sheets 250g
Product 3: Linda Mccartney Chorizo Sausage 270g
|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)||Product 1: Nescafe Black Gold
Product 2: Birds Eye Petit Pois (not in size needed)
Product 3: Linda McCartney Chorizo Sausage
Product 4: Bfree Sweet Potato Gluten Free Wrap
Product 5: Baxters Crinkle Cut Beetroot (not in size needed)
|N/A||Product 1: Baxter’s Crinkle Cut Beetroot
Product 2: L’Oreal Age Perfect
Product 3: Bertolli Light Spread
Product 4: Castello Brie
Product 5: Coca Cola Zero Sugar 1250ml
Product 6: Linda McCartney Chorizo sausage 270g
Product 7: BFree Sweet Potato Wrap
Product 8: Tetley’s Decaf x 80
Product 9: Nescafé Black Gold
Product 10: Own Label Free From Lasagne Sheets
|N/A||Product 1: Chwartz shepherd’s pie recipe mix (bought Colman’s instead)
Product 2: Granny Smith apples 5-7 (only stocked 4 so bought 6 Royal gala instead)
Product 3: Own Label Free From lasagna sheets (no sub bought)
|Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad||Very busy store - didn’t feel entirely safe. Fairly empty fresh produce shelves.||Despite the store being busy and the problems with payments (that were out of the store’s control) I had a very positive experience - mostly down to the new layout and store standards. All the items were stocked and available.||Just the lack of car park facilities made this shopping trip a little more difficult than usual.||Was a very good shopping experience. No waiting at any point. Had almost every item possible. Shelves were stocked and had plenty of staff available.||An attractive store but a bit chaotic|
|TOTAL SCORE (100)||62||91||68||76||78|