A year on from the UK’s first national lockdown, supermarkets have been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic with social distancing, customer limits, face coverings and safety screens. But as we reflect on those events of a year ago, this week there was one similar to the situation from last March: poor availability.
In a low-scoring week, only one supermarket managed to avoid any out-of-stocks, and that was the retailer at the bottom of the pile. Our winner was Sainsbury’s in Otley, which scored 73 – despite two out-of-stocks – to take the store of the week award. Coincidentally, that was a gong it last received exactly a year ago at the height of panic-buying.
Our shopper was impressed with how well organised the entrance was, with plenty of antibacterial spray and towels for trolleys as well as hand sanitiser. There was also a greeter to manage customer numbers, though there was no queue at this time on Saturday evening.
Staff were consistently excellent, including one team member who gave our shopper precise directions to an item she needed and checked up on her later to make sure she had found it. The checkout operator was also friendly and efficient.
The only area where the store lost marks was availability, with two out-of-stocks and three not-stocked items.
Runner-up Tesco Shrewsbury also had two out-of-stock lines, which affected its overall performance, with a score of 68.
Our shopper was impressed by the cleanliness of the store and how easy it was to navigate with particularly wide aisles. Staff were generally helpful and friendly – particularly one employee who helped our shopper on two occasions.
Waitrose in Alderley Edge scored top marks for customer service but none for availability. The smallish supermarket didn’t stock eight of the items on our list and was also out of stock on four items.
In terms of service, our shopper was impressed by staff, who she named as the standout feature of the store. She said they were “genuinely friendly and seemed to have a very nice rapport with one another”.
Again, one staff member stood out – taking our shopper to an item, looking up information on another line and checking in later to see if our shopper needed any further assistance.
There were only four points separating Waitrose and fourth-placed Morrisons in Liskeard. Here too, availability was an issue, with two out-of-stocks and one not-stocked product.
The Morrisons branch was untidy in places, with cardboard boxes discarded in some aisles, an unattended cleaning bucket and mop in one aisle and a ladder left in another.
Staff were a mixed bag: only one of five team members our shopper approached took him to the item he was after, while the others simply pointed and offered vague directions.
Just one not-stocked item prevented our shopper at Asda Waterlooville picking up a full basket – but the positive news ends there, as the store scored just 44 points.
Our shopper spotted litter in the car park and unfortunately the untidiness continued in-store. Our shopper described the shelves as messy with products in the wrong places.
There appeared to be an obvious staff shortage and this was confirmed when our shopper overheard the checkout operator tell a fellow customer there had been some staff sickness. There were only two open checkouts, which led to long queues to pay.
This week’s results:
|WEEK 39: Saturday, 20/03/2021 (5.00pm - 7.00pm)||WINNER|
|Car Park (10)||5||8||10||9||9|
|Car park management (3)||1||3||3||2||3|
|Queueing time to park and finding a parking space (2)||2||2||2||2||2|
|Exiting the car park (2)||2||2||2||2||2|
|After exiting your car please rate your experience before entering the store? (3)||0||1||3||3||2|
|Feedback||The car park had plenty of spaces but there was a lot of litter and unattended trolleys strewn around the car park||The car park was very tidy with trolleys in the bays and an attendant was seen collecting and returning them to the store.||Upon entering the car park there was plenty of spaces available and it wasn’t overly busy either. There was ample spaces for disabled and parent and child parking also. Upon entering the store there was a staff member greeting - I presume they would have managed the queue had there been any. There were sanitising stations at the entrance with anti-bac spray, paper and sanitiser.||The large car park provided ample parking and was easy to find a space near to the store. The trolleys in the stations were tidily stacked. There was a very full bin that needed emptying near to the entrance of the store.||Lots of available spaces and parking ticket cost can be claimed back if under 1 hour|
|Store standards (20)||7||11||16||15||14|
|First impression (6)||0||2||6||6||6|
|Fruit & vegetables section (3)||1||2||2||1||1|
|Store standards - remaining sections (3)||0||1||2||2||1|
|Feedback||The store was extremely untidy with empty packaging littered throughout. There were many products left in wrong sections and lots of litter strewn around. Shelves throughout were messy.||There was no one managing the entrance when we arrived but there were sanitizer stations outside and inside the store. A number of aisles had discarded cardboard boxes on the floor and shelves. In one of the aisles there were a large number of items on the floor including a cleaning bucket and mop. There were warning yellow bollards but no one in attendance. This was looked at later in our visit and had been cleared. There was a ladder left unattended in another aisle. There were gaps on several shelves around the store.||The store standards were generally good considering it was late at night. The fruit and veg section was mainly tidy apart from some peelings on the floor.
There were quite a lot of out of stocks - the fresh bakery racks were completely empty but probably typical for this time of day. The counters were all empty and closed with the exception of the pizza counter.
There was one blue stacking trolley causing an obstruction in the health and beauty aisle but aside from this the store was easy to navigate. I did have a broken trolley though - I didn’t realise the extent of it until I started going around the store - it sounded like it was going to take off!
I didn’t see any spillages at all around the store.
Promotions were well executed around the store - the main promotional at the entry of the store was that Sainsbury’s was price matching Aldi, then products dotted around store were clearly highlighted as being price matched. Easter and gardening was set up in the promotional aisle plus various gondola ends and looked attractive with decent offers.
|The store had plenty of offers that were clearly visible at the end of lots of the aisles and they were attractively displayed. The fruit and veg section had a lot of empty spaces where produce should have been.||Clean and tidy but some of the bread mixed and strewn across the shelves. A lot of restocking going on - thought it was a strange time to do it when people popping in quickly to grab items for dinner.
The Easter display was beautiful but nothing else made me stop and take a good look!
|Store layout and services (10)||4||7||7||6||6|
|Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (4)||3||3||3||3||4|
|Available services (6)||1||4||4||3||2|
|Feedback||The click and collect was a locker system in the car park which you helped yourself to, the screen seemed self explanatory. There was a pizza hot food section but it was grubby and I wouldn’t make a purchase. The layout of the store was a bit confusing especially with the separate chilled areas.||When entering the store there is a florist section with attractive displays. Although most of the layout of the store made shopping easy the Spanish Tapas selection was in a chilled display at the end of the fruit and vegetable aisle not in the chilled meat section where Spanish meats were available. The fish and meat counters were eye-catching with a good selection of products.||I believe it was just the time of day that they were closed but the pizza counter did look attractive and had good availability. The food to go section offering was decent but well shopped; again probably typical for this time of night. The store was fairly logical and intuitive to navigate around but the frozen section was a little confusing as it had a huge sign saying meat and fish but yet none of the items I needed were there; they ended up being elsewhere.||Each aisle was beautifully wide allowing for safe distance from other customers. At the back of the store there was an attractive bakery with the smell of freshly baked bread which was very enticing and an extensive deli. However there were pallets of produce, Easter eggs etc running along the length of the deli almost right up against the deli counter making it impossible to get with a trolley and almost completely out of view altogether because the pallets were such an obstruction.||The Bakery seemed very empty perhaps to do with the time of day? Layout was easy to navigate and good space around any promo mid isle baskets. Some nice natural and stylish baskets used to display bakery products|
|Shop Floor Service (20)||7||7||17||11||20|
|Finding a member of staff (5)||1||1||3||3||5|
|Shop floor staff helpfulness in locating items (5)||2||2||4||3||5|
|Shop floor staff diligence and hard work in replenishing shelves and picking in-store orders (5)||2||2||5||3||5|
|Staff presentation (5)||2||2||5||2||5|
|Feedback||There was an obvious staff shortage in this store, they did wear uniform but there was none attending to the many issues.||At times staff were difficult to locate and had to be searched for. All staff were in uniform however one male staff member had long hair that was not tied back. Out of five staff members that were asked the location of an item only one accompanied me to the product. Other staff members just pointed towards where the product was located and said “it is over there” and carried on working.||I interacted with a few staff members who were helpful. Big thanks to James who gave me precise directions to where I needed to find the product but then checking up on me later on, asking if I had found all i needed. Andrew helped me in the vegetable section - I was looking for green beans and he pointed them out - to be fair though I was so close to them i didn’t need escorting there so it was sufficient for him to point out where to go. All staff members were professional and courteous. All were smart and dressed in uniform so they were easy to identify, Shop floor staff weren’t on every aisle but they were pretty much just one aisle away so I could find them when I needed them.||Tom was very helpful on two occasions helping me to locate a couple of items in the Fruit & Veg section. He was able to confirm that the raspberries were out of stock and went to check that there weren’t any in the back just in case. He was friendly and asked me if there was anything else he could help me look for which was very impressive.||Went the extra mile walked with me to the item and checked if a further item I needed. When she saw me 5 mins later in another part of the store she recognised me and asked again “do you need any further help?” - impressed|
|Tills and checkouts (20)||3||18||17||15||16|
|Rate how well managed were the queues leading to the tills? Were a sufficient number of checkouts open for the volume of staff? Were staff on hand to advise on checkouts with shorter queues, or manage social distancing (5)||0||5||5||3||5|
|How long did you have to queue? (5)||0||4||3||3||4|
|Please rate checkout staff on their customer service (8)||1||7||7||7||5|
|Was the till receipt free of mistakes? (2)||2||2||2||2||2|
|Feedback||There were only a couple of checkouts open, the customer at the front had coupons and the staff member had to get help with this which was a lengthy process. The customer behind me said to the staff member the queue was now all the way down the aisle and she said there was staff sickness and she was doing her best. She simply started to process my shopping and literally launched it down the checkout without due care, she did say goodbye but this was the only verbatim other that the price and telling me to put my card in again when the machine didn’t respond.||There were markers on the floor indicating where to wait to adhere to social distancing requirements. There was a short wait and customers were being served quickly.||There were just two main checkouts open out of six (but mainly customers were using the eight self checkout tills) so there was only one person ahead of me in the queue. It only took a couple of minutes to be served myself. A friendly staff member called Alice greeted me with a friendly smile and processed the transaction quickly and efficiently. She asked if I had a nectar card but didn’t offer to help pack. The whole process only took a couple of minutes. Alice then bade me a friendly goodbye. The till receipt was free from mistakes.||The checkout person was not wearing a name label but he was friendly and apologised for the wait.||Felt the length of the conveyor belt quite short bit of a squash to get everything on.
Perspex COVID protection screens were big and well placed
|Availability score (20)||18||10||6||12||0|
|Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:|
|Available (up to 20)||32||30||28||31||21|
|Out of stock (-4 per item)||0||2||2||2||4|
|Not stocked (-2 per item)||1||1||3||0||8|
|Number of items bought (incl.subs)||33||33||33||32||33|
|Please note down the items on your shopping list that were out of stock (please highlight the products that have managed to get a satisfactory substitutions)||N/A||Product 1: Alpen Muesli No added sugar
Product 2: Own label Sultanas 1000g
|Product 1: Own Label Feta Cheese
Product 2: Cadbury’s Creme Egg single egg
|Product 1: Own Label Raspberries
Product 2: Own Label Penne Pasta 500g
|Product 1: Own label Crispy Potato Slices 350g
Product 2: Own Label Free From 4 Fresh White Rolls 300g
Product 3: Own Label Mixed Pepper Stir Fry 300g
Product 4: Paxo Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix 170g
|Please note down the items on your shopping list that were not stocked (please highlight the products that have managed to get a satisfactory substitutions)||Product 1: Anchor Spreadable 750g||Product 1: Anchor Spreadable 750 grms||Product 1: Malteaser Bunny
Product 2: Fever Tree Tonic
Product 3: Own Label Free From white rolls
|N/A||Product 1: 1724 Tonic Water Fever Tree 500ml
Product 2: Actimel Strawberry Yogurt Drink 8x100g 800g
Product 3: Anchor Spreadable 750g
Product 4: Hovis Soft White Thick Bread 800g
Product 5: Own Label British Chicken Breast Portions Skinless & Boneless Frozen 1000g
Product 6: Own Label Penne Pasta 500g
Product 7: Own Label Sultana 1000g
Product 8: Youngs Gastro 2 Tempura Battered Crispy Lemon & Herb Basa Fillets 310g
|Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad||The shop was poorly staffed and very dirty, there were spillages and litter and no attention to detail, for example there was a packet of potato slices which were mouldy sat at the front of a display. I wouldn’t return or recommend this store, it’s the worst I’ve ever shopped in!||The store had plenty of sanitising stations around the store which was reassuring. Some of the aisles looked untidy with discarded wrappings , products on the floor and untidy shelves. In the bakery section there were no large packets of any dried fruits available though labels did indicate products were out of stock. Staff were not as customer focussed as they could have been and could have accompanied me to where the products were located. The check out process was quick with very little time queuing.||I did see a couple of people without masks within the store.||The store is exceptionally large but offers a nice shopping experience as it offers so much. I loved the wide aisles and despite the size of the store I found it easy to navigate my way around. The store was tidy despite some shelves being empty.||Positive shopping trip - slightly disappointed re unstocked items but there were alternatives to be had.
Staff were stand out and genuinely friendly and looked very busy and seemed to have very nice rapour with one another.
Trolleys were clearly labelled Clean & Used on entry.
Nice feel to the store
|TOTAL SCORE (100)||44||61||73||68||65|