Sainsburys aisle shopper

Source: Mystery shopper

In a low-scoring week Sainsbury’s picked up our store of the week despite scoring only two points for availability.

Its win was built primarily on great customer service. Our mystery shopper had “rarely seen” a shop floor as well staffed as its Upper Norwood store in London.

She asked for help multiple times and was able to find a member of staff within seconds every time. They were helpful and knowledgeable on where items were, made sure to check for stock in the back and apologised when items were not available. The friendly and efficient checkout assistant was the highlight of the visit.

The store itself was also bright and appeared well cared for. Additionally, the fruit and veg section featured a modern neon lights area, yet was open enough to give the appearance of a local greengrocer.

Sainsbury’s score was impacted by availability, as three of our items were out of stock, with three not stocked.

Waitrose’s Bagshot branch followed closely with 67 points. Our visitor found it “a pleasure” to shop there. The store was clean and tidy, and featured a number of enticing displays – namely the Christmas display and the alcohol offer display near the entrance. Plus, the fresh counters were well stocked and all shop floor staff were helpful and approachable.

The store layout was logical, and photo signs hanging from the ceiling in the fresh produce aisles proved extremely helpful.

However, the retailer faced some supply issues. There were a few “completely empty” sections, such as the crisps and ready-cooked meats aisles. Four items were out of stock, and the restocking activity caused obstruction in several aisles.

Morrisons scored 61 points this week. Its Cannock store scored highest on availability (only one item was out of stock), boasting a tidy and well stocked fruit and veg section. And the store layout was logical and allowed for a quick shopping experience.

But the rest of the store felt cluttered and messy, with several unmanned restocking trolleys, ladders and cages posing an obstruction across the aisles. In addition, there weren’t many staff available to help around the shop floor – although the ones our shopper engaged with were friendly and helpful.

Of all the retailers, Asda struggled the most with availability this week. Its Cheltenham branch scored only 59 points, with a zero for availability due to five out of stocks.

Staff were extremely helpful in looking for the requested product, though. And the store felt generally clean and tidy, and featured some enticing displays that looked “bright and inviting”. The fresh food counters in particular were well stocked and attractive.

The store was busy, which meant she had to queue for nearly 10 minutes before a till was available. Her checkout assistant was friendly and apologised for the waiting time.  

Tesco took last place with 56 points. The store itself was well laid out and easy to navigate and generally offered a good selection of products. But while our mystery shopper thought its Telford branch was spacious and well stocked (barring some empty shelves), she said it was “trying to do too many seasonal displays at one time”, which gave it a cluttered feeling, and the initial entrance area featured many services (kiosk, toilets, sandwich area) in a relatively small space.

There was also an area dedicated to discounted items, but it looked slightly messy.