sainsburys christchurch paul barlow

Source: Charles Thorne Photography

Winner: Sainsbury’s Christchurch

Store manager: Paul Barlow

Opened: 1990

Size: 48,000 sq ft

Market share: 28%

Nearest rivals: Waitrose – 2.6 miles, Tesco – 4.7 miles, Asda – 5.8 miles, Morrisons – 6 miles

Store data source: Analysis by CACI.

Call the market planning group on 020 7602 6000

How have shopping habits changed because of coronavirus? What we’ve seen since March is that many people are shopping less often but doing larger shops when they do visit us. I haven’t seen that sort of thing for four or five years. We’re also getting a lot more customers shopping with us online and through our click & collect service – that’s really grown significantly over the past few months.

Are customers adhering to safety measures? Since face masks became mandatory in English shops last week our customers are definitely adhering to it, as well as social distancing. I’m really pleased with how customers have reacted to all the new measures; they’ve really embraced them.

What about staff? They’re doing really well. We engaged our team very early on about what changes we would have to make to keep everyone safe. Say if an aisle does start to get busy, our staff are trained to just step away from it for a while. We monitor the situation everyday to maintain or adapt the measures we’ve introduced, but there are some areas the virus has impacted that have taken more getting used to. For instance, it’s been really positive to see so many learning new skills in the new roles they’ve taken on because of coronavirus.

How do you maintain the calm atmosphere our shopper experienced? We’re not getting any peak busy times at the moment, and numbers are very manageable. It’s a calm place to shop now we’ve stepped away from the panic buying that happened around March. What the shopper experienced is typical of what the shop is like day to day.

Our shopper found staff were friendly, chatty and helpful. How have you kept morale up? We need to make shopping as pleasurable as possible right now. Despite there being screens at tills and masks being worn, we’re still getting a lot of positive feedback from shoppers about how friendly and helpful our staff are. We really try to create a positive and helpful environment and it’s great to know that’s reflected in the customer experience. I find the best way to maintain it is talking about what good service is with the team and rewarding a job well done. It’s so important to reward great service and make employees feel proud of what they’ve achieved. This has been a really difficult time for the whole country and we’re just trying to do our bit to make customers feel as good as we can. The friendliness of the people who work here is what sets us apart from our rivals.

Are you getting a lot of ‘staycationers’ shopping with you? Yes, we’re getting a lot visiting the area at the moment as more people seem to be holidaying in this country rather than going abroad. I wasn’t sure what our footfall would be this summer and this is the hardest time I’ve ever experienced at the store in terms of not knowing how it was going to play out, but foot traffic is broadly the same compared to previous summers because of so many people staying in the area.