Sainsburys beauty aisle

Source: Mystery shopper

Sainsbury’s Heaton superstore was the clear winner on our Friday night shop, with 77 points. Our shopper described the overall experience as good. She noted the shop floor was very clean and orderly, earning the store top marks for standards.

Highlights included the fresh pizza counter, which our shopper said would entice her back to the store, as well as the sushi counter. Service was generally good, though staff she spoke to did not walk her to the items she was looking for. She also described the free-from section as “small and poorly signed”.

Three items were out of stock, but staff were busy restocking lots of areas of the store.

There was a 22-point gap between Sainsbury’s and second-placed Tesco, which provided a “very average shopping experience”. Its Pengam Green branch had a “cold atmosphere”, with unattended trolleys dotted throughout the store, and the produce area was quite low on stock. Four of our 33 items were out of stock, and one was not stocked.

Customer service was hit and miss. One staff member was helpful and friendly, but another only pointed her to the product she sought, which she still struggled to find thanks to unclear signage. The store layout also felt illogical, with a small clothing section between the sauces and bread aisles.

But the store had some great Mother’s Day and Easterpromotions at the front, and the food-to-go section looked good.

Next up was Waitrose’s Wandsworth branch, which scored 49 points. Although the store – located in Southside shopping centre – is quite large, our shopper found the layout confusing at times, particularly if entering from the shopping centre’s car park.

Availability was running low towards the end of the day, with the fruit & veg section “particularly bare”, but our shopper still managed to buy 29 items.

On a positive note, the store was clean and the lighting made it look “bright and fresh”. Staff were neatly presented and largely helpful, contributing to an overall pleasant experience.

Fourth-placed Asda failed to impress our shopper, who gave its Roehampton superstore only 42 points. Things got off to a “poor start” when she noticed the car park was very littered and was forced to “walk around hunting for a trolley”.

She found the display of compost bags by the entrance “overwhelming” and the layout seemed counterintuitive.

Our visitor described the produce section as disappointing. She also noticed lots of gaps in stock across the store, as well as random product placement on the end-of-aisle gondolas.

The highlight of this branch was the well-stocked halal meat counter, as well as the Ramadan and Easter seasonal aisles. She also managed to get nearly everything on her shopping list.

In last place was Morrisons’ Crowborough branch, which our shopper described as a “very disappointing experience as a whole”. She said a group of staff members were chatting by the entrance and obstructing customers.

The store layout was also illogical for the most part, forcing her to backtrack often to find products. The fresh aisle struggled with supply, and the food counters were already closed by the time she got to the shop.

There were only two colleagues working on the whole shop floor, and one of them unhelpful. The lady on the checkout, however, was “lovely”, but overall our visitor gave Morrisons only 36 points and said she would “not visit this store again in a hurry”.