waitrose preston aisle shopper cereal

The aisles at Waitrose’s Walton-le-Dale store were easy to navigate

Waitrose prevailed to claim a second consecutive service and availability win in what was generally a low-scoring week.

The retailer’s Walton-le-Dale store in Preston scored 68 to come in eight points clear of its nearest rival. Availability was strong, and our shopper left with 31 of the 33 items.

There was litter in the car park and in the trolleys outside the store, but inside the aisles were clear and easy to navigate. Our shopper spotted a number of staff members near the entrance but found them harder to locate when she needed them in other areas.

There was someone in the wine section who proved helpful in locating the small bottle of prosecco she was after. Her shop finished on a smooth note – a new checkout was opened as she approached the tills.

This week’s runner-up was Tesco in Basingstoke with 60 points. Availability was a big issue as our shopped bagged just 27 items. The shopper also found it tricky to get around the store for a variety of reasons. These included the layout and its use of the back wall, restocking trolleys left unattended and a plethora of staff fulfilling online grocery orders.

Our shopper said she lost count of the number of online pickers who were often getting in the way of customers. In one aisle, two had completely blocked the thoroughfare, forcing customers to wait. She was at least able to get one of these members of staff to help look for a missing item: he used his handheld device to find it.

Most staff were “efficient and friendly and keen to help”. Only one, when asked if something might be in the stockroom, just said “no” and didn’t offer to check. The checkout assistant was “a lovely lady”, though.

Just two points separated second and fourth place this week. Morrisons Tamworth came in third on 59, with one out-of-stock and two not-stocked items. The store was clean and easy to navigate. The biggest issue our shopper had was finding staff when she needed assistance. After failing to locate anyone on the shopfloor, she resorted to asking a member of staff on the bakery counter, who proved very helpful.

Our shopper had a longer than expected wait at the till, but this was mainly down to the customer in front having an issue with an item that refused to scan. This led to a manager being called out who was able to sort it. Our shopper received several apologies as she waited.

There was one out-of-stock at Asda’s Barnes Hill store in Birmingham. Three not-stocked lines meant our shopper went home with 29 items.

She had a job just getting started as there were no trolleys available in the shelter and barriers at the store entrance were causing a bottleneck. Inside, the store was clean and tidy and though there were some staff restocking shelves, they did not create an obstruction. Like at Tesco, however, online pickers did get in the way.

When called upon, staff did seem to be happy to help and either took our shopper to where she needed to be or tried in vain to find missing items.

Sainsbury’s in Maidenhead notched up a disappointing 45 points. There were three items out of stock and one not stocked. The store entrance was difficult to find from the multi-storey car park. Inside our shopper spotted a spillage that had not been attended to – subsequently children on scooters had skidded through it.

One member of staff was very helpful, taking our shopper to the product she was after, but another was “very dismissive”.