It was a tough race for the Grocer 33 podium this week, but Sainsbury’s snagged the top spot by a one-point margin.
With 76 points, the Chesterfield superstore scored the highest on two key metrics: shop floor service and availability. Our mystery shopper was able to buy nearly all items barring the Mediterranean-style roasting vegetables, which were not stocked.
They said the range and variety available in store, including GM, meant this store was able to give shoppers all they needed. They were also impressed by the many eye-catching seasonal and promotional displays.
Shop floor staff were attentive and helpful. Some were busy restocking but made sure to stay out of shoppers’ way, carefully tucking away trolleys.
Sainsbury’s scored lowest for car park, mainly because there was a short queue to enter and no attendance in sight. However the car park was clean, with tidy trolley parks and clear signage for navigation. Tills and checkout was also marked down as only two out of 14 manned tills were open, leading to queues.
Waitrose and Tesco were tied at second place with 75 points each. The former’s Cheltenham branch impressed our shopper at first sight, with its colourful and inviting garden and flower displays by the entrance.
However, once inside, the seasonal displays and current offers looked “somewhat depleted”. Other areas of the store were running low on stock, particularly fruit & veg. Our visitor bought 29 items as three were out of stock and one was not stocked. The food counters, however, were well stocked and enticing.
There were colleagues replenishing throughout the store in a tidy and unobstructive manner. Overall, the store felt clean, tidy and well cared for, making for a “pleasant shopping experience”.
Meanwhile, Tesco’s store in Basildon also struggled with availability during our visitor’s Friday evening trip. The food-to-go and sandwich section in particular was “one big mess”, though stock levels did improve as the shop progressed. In the end, only two of our items were out of stock.
The store was generally well organised considering its small size, though some of the narrower aisles were obstructed by unattended caged trolleys filled with cardboard boxes.
The highlight of the shopping experience though was the quality of shop floor service. Staff were friendly and gave “the impression they enjoyed their jobs”, making the trip all the more enjoyable.
Fourth-placed Asda scored 58 points. Its Parkhead, Glasgow, branch was spacious and bright, with wide aisles that allowed shoppers to navigate without any major obstructions.
However, it failed to deliver on many fronts during this visit – the fruit & veg section had so many gaps it felt “disappointing”, layout and product placement was often confusing, and there were barely any staff available on the shop floor.
Lastly, Morrisons on Holyhead Road, Coventry, delivered an “average experience”. Due to heavy restocking, there were some trolleys blocking customers from reaching certain products. Some of the end-of-aisle promotional displays were also obstructed from view by restock cages, and our shopper noted they could do with some tidying up.
Customer service was “mixed” – some staff were helpful and efficient, but one member sent our shopper to the wrong aisle twice. All in all, Morrisons scored 47 points.