Source: JD Photography

Tesco’s Thirsk superstore was our winner this week – the only store to earn points for stock availability

On this Friday night shop most retailers failed miserably on stock availability. Tesco’s Thirsk branch was the only one to garner points, with one item out of stock and four not stocked.

Aside from the missing items, our mystery shopper said store standards were “excellent”. The store was clean and had a light and airy atmosphere.

Staff were proactive and friendly. Our visitor saw one spillage, but it was cleaned by a member of staff in minutes. The checkout assistant was engaged and demonstrated care. In total the Thirsk superstore earned 79 points.

Sainsbury’s store in Bodmin was some way behind with a score of 58, but featured some eye-catching displays, such as gardening and beachwear. Our shopper found it had good signage that made it easy to navigate. She also noted it was largely clean and tidy.

However, it struggled heavily with availability as there were lots of gaps on shelves across different areas of the store, though its low score was due to a “disappointing” nine items being not stocked, while one item was out of stock.

Shop floor service too was hit and miss too, as some colleagues were “more helpful than others”, though the checkout experience was quick and efficient.

In third Waitrose’s Ringwood branch scored 56 points after providing a tepid shopping experience. On the plus side, the store itself was tidy and pleasant, and our shopper liked the well-stocked and enticing trolleys of plants outside the store.

Plus, both shop floor service and checkout raked in top marks. Colleagues were all smartly presented and, even whilst busy restocking, engaged with customers in a polite and friendly manner.

On the downside, there were no eye-catching displays or promotions once inside the store, and there were lots of gaps across different sections, particularly in fruit & veg. The mystery shopper only bought 27 items as four were out of stock and two were not stocked. In addition, she did not find the layout intuitive and had to double back a couple of times.

Fourth-placed Morrisons totalled 49 points. The store in Southend-on-Sea gave our visitor a good first impression – lovely and bright, with wide aisles and seasonal plant displays at the entrance. The wide variety of services, including a cake shop, pharmacy, bakery and fresh food counters were a highlight, and customer service was great all around.

However, the lack of stock availability impacted this store’s overall performance. Three of the items on our grocery list were out of stock and six were not stocked. Our shopper noticed there were many gaps across the shop, which put her off wanting to return.

This small-sized branch also lost points because the signage, both in store and outside, was not helpful. For instance, as the store is located behind a pub, it was easy to miss the Morrisons sign when approaching it.

Asda’s Burgh Heath, Reigate supercentre was this week’s clear loser with 32 points. This store also took zero points for availability – four out of stocks and five not stocked – and badly needed restocking, our shopper said. The shop floor was overall clean and tidy, but the layout was “odd” at times – for instance, tea bags were found at the back of the store.

She was also “not impressed with the staff”, who proved to be unhelpful and largely disengaged from their work. This included the till assistant, who did not interact with our visitor at all.

Store standards were also average, although she did not the shop floor was generally clean and tidy – as opposed to the car park, where the trolleys were “very dirty”.