Waitrose Pontprennau

Waitrose Cardiff-Pontprennau was well stocked, with ‘pleasant’ staff

Waitrose Cardiff-Pontprennau was the clear winner on service & availability this week, beating a somewhat mediocre performance from its six rivals.

Waitrose’s score of 91 was 28 points ahead of its nearest competitor, Tesco.

Availability was a key strength. Waitrose was missing just one item – and would have secured a full basket if it hadn’t recently stopped selling the Essential Waitrose wholemeal loaf due to a lack of popularity. There were plenty of standard tier wholemeal loaves, however.

That reflected a generally well stocked store without any gaps. There was some restocking taking place, though staff were staying out of the way of shoppers for the most part.

The store was also well-laid out, making for a smooth experience. Staff were easy to find, “well presented and pleasant” – and helpful when our shopper needed assistance. Her trip ended with a particularly uplifting interaction at the checkout.

Just eight points separated second and seventh place this week. Our runner-up was Tesco in Amersham with 63. Our shopper’s trip didn’t start well, as no one was collecting trolleys. That meant customers were having to hunt them out from shelters on this wet Sunday morning.

On availability, our shopper left with 31 items due to one out-of-stock and one not-stocked item. Our shopper found the fresh produce section was particularly depleted in the exceptionally busy store.

Staff were helpful, but our shopper had a long wait at the checkout as not enough manned tills were open.

Sainsbury’s Basingstoke and Lidl’s Lincoln store were both a further point back on 62.

Sainsbury’s didn’t have any out-of-stocks, reflecting strong availability overall in the store. However, there were three not-stocked items.

During the shop, two staff members created a barrier at one point by placing restocking trolleys in close proximity, but staff were generally exceptionally helpful when called upon.

As with Tesco, a major issue was length of time queueing at the tills. Just two of the four manned checkouts were open, with four-deep queues at both.

Our shopper was also able to pick up 30 items at Lidl. In this case, there was one out-of-stock and two not-stocked lines. Our shopper was generally impressed by the store standards and intrigued by the middle-aisle offers.

However, she was disappointed by the lack of staff on the shop floor. This meant she had to keep approaching the same two people, both of whom seemed in a hurry to get on with restocking shelves, rather than helping customers.

Aldi in Reading was a point behind its discounter rival on 61. Here again, our shopper bagged 30 items – with one out of stock and two not stocked. The store was tidy and well-stocked, and staff were friendly but not always completely knowledgeable.

Asda in Poole scored 58 this week. One out-of-stock and four not-stocked items meant our shopper went home with 28 items. Our shopper felt the store was in “need of some TLC”. Standards were not great, with empty boxes and crates obvious in a number of locations.

The plentiful staff, however, were the highlight of the visit, and one even searched online for the vegan Skittles.

Last place went to Morrisons in Cheltenham on 55 points. There were two out-of-stocks and one not-stocked item. The store had a messy feel with lots of rubbish left around, but staff were all friendly and helpful.