Tesco social distancing signage

Source: Mystery shopper

Availability made all the difference in this high-scoring week as Tesco triumphed over Asda and Waitrose, with all three well-organised and safe stores impressing our shoppers.

The “plentiful” Tesco in Chepstow was close to providing a full basket on Sunday lunchtime, with just two products not stocked. There were no gaps on shelves and staff were replenishing stock while being mindful of social distancing.

Our shopper didn’t have to queue to get into the store and was greeted with hand sanitiser and towels in the foyer. Signage was clear at the entrance and a staff member explained the one-way system. Relevant products and promotions were available at the front of the shop, including toilet paper, lemonade and bread rolls.

“It was a lovely store and appeared very well-organised with friendly staff who seemed happy to be at work,” our mystery shopper said.

Asda in Glasgow had a near-perfect score in all categories thanks to a calm and clean shop and helpful, knowledgeable staff. However, six items were missing from our shopper’s list.

Canned food was in short supply in some areas, with notable absences in anti-bacterial wipes, bleach and hand gel. Still, our shopper pointed out that the majority of the store was well-stocked.

Staff were also “extremely” helpful, and checked the stockroom for missing items or directed customers to the correct part of the store.

Despite “a very clear” one-way system in place, our shopper was frustrated by customers ignoring the measure. Staff did their best to encourage shoppers to stick to the rules.

“I was very impressed by the organisation and stock levels generally,” the shopper said. “Staff were doing a great job in difficult circumstances.”

Waitrose in Harrogate was also well-organised but dropped marks for a long wait to get into the shop and for six missing products. Despite the gaps, the store in general was “immaculate and to a very high standard”, our shopper said.

Outdoor displays of “attractive and colourful” plants, garden essentials and barbecue accessories were targeted at the waiting customers. Inside the store was “very calm and ordered”, with markings on the floor indicating two-metre distancing.

All staff members were sympathetic to the social distancing measures and were friendly, polite and professional.

The remaining two stores were well off the pace this week, with Sainsbury’s in Tooting proving to be “an unpleasant and stressful” experience.

The queue to enter was short and hand sanitiser was available to use at the front of store. However, our shopper was critical of the rest of the shop. The one-way system was ignored by customers and staff did not regulate the flow through the store.

Availability was mixed. Six products were missing, as tinned and dry goods areas were low on stock.

Still, the checkout experience was quick, safe and easy. Spots on the floor told customers where to stand to encourage social distancing and staff were “pleasant and friendly”.

A “chaotic” Morrisons in Wakefield finished bottom of the pile, with low scores for standards and shop floor service. Staff were impossible to find inside the store, apart from those at the entrance.

The hand sanitiser station was a mess and no one was using it, the shopper said. The store in general was untidy, with piles of boxes in the aisles.

This week’s results:

WEEK 49: Sunday 31/05/2020 (12.00pm-3.00pm)   WINNER 
  Asda Morrisons Sainsbury’s Tesco Waitrose 
Location Glasgow  Wakefield London Chepstow Harrogate
Date  31/05/2020 31/05/2020 31/05/2020 31/05/2020 31/05/2020
Time slot  12.00pm-3.00pm 12.00pm-3.00pm 12.00pm-3.00pm 12.00pm-3.00pm 12.00pm-3.00pm
Shop starts 12:13 12:00 12:30 12:49 12:20
Visit Duration 01:18 00:55 01:20 01:00 01:22
Shop Duration 01:08 00:41 01:02 00:57 01:03
Car Park  (10) 10 8 9 8 7
Signposting (up to 1) 1 1 1 1 1
Queueing time to park (up to 2) 2 2 2 2 2
Trolleys (up to 2) 2 2 1 2 2
Queueing time from parking the car to enter the store (up to 3) 3 2 3 3 0
Feedback (up to 2)  2 1 2 0 2
  There was a clear and easy to navigate entry system which was being managed by a member of staff. I didn’t need to queue at all at the point I arrived and was able to walk straight in but as I was leaving it was a one in, one out system. 2 metres gaps were marked on the ground and there were barriers to direct queues. There was a separate statement for collecting prescriptions where you called when you arrived and your prescription was brought to you. The trolleys no longer needed £1 coins to release then and there was a trolley cleaning station next to them so you could wipe down the handle before using it. Staff effectively managing but no stickers or way to calculate distance in place in the queue outside. The woman who was managing the queue at the front was berating her colleague on another queue, presumably the exit, for not clicking (counting) the number of people leaving saying to me ‘some of them are useless, he’s like my backside.’ There was no queue at all to enter the carpark and there were lots of empty spaces. The trolley area was well stocked and the queuing area was marked on the floor with tape at 2 metre distances. There were signs explaining the social distancing policy. There was a staff member positioned before the entrance who was asking people to wait in order to regulate the number of people in the store. He was standing next to a table where there was hand sanitiser available to use. The car park was clean and tidy with the exception of the leafs at the far end of the car park. The trolleys seemed new. I noticed a couple of electric car charging points which were in use when I exited the store and went back to my car. As we are thinking of getting an electric car, I thought this was a great idea. The store was organised well with a separate entrance and exit. There was a chap outside letting people in one at a time. There was no queue when I arrived so I was able to enter the store directly and join the queue taking us from the foyer through the newspaper section into the fruit and veg. This moved quickly. Waitrose Harrogate is located within the town centre. The customer car park entrance is clearly marked by sign post and you enter on the left hand side. Upon approach I was able to find a space immediately. There were plenty of parking spaces including parent and child and disabled. Trolleys were available near the entrance and were being distributed by a staff member who was standing by the entrance and guiding the queue/greeting customers who approached the front. There was also a security guard at the front who was advising where to stand just before entering the store once you had your trolley. It was all very well organised. Coloured markers on the floor clearly indicated 2 metre distance plus they also had permanent markings on the road and bollards all the way along the queue so the 2 metre message was very prominent. The queue looked like big when I first arrived but it did move quite quickly and the wait to enter the store was just over ten minutes. The car park was very clean and tidy. Externally there are displays of lots of attractive and colourful outdoor plants plus other garden essentials such as compost and bbq accessories which one could peruse whilst waiting. At the entrance they had a large television with messaging displaying safety notices and also thanks to drivers and other heroes during the pandemic.
Store standards (20) 18 10 12 20 17
First impression (up to 5)  4 2 3 5 4
Feedback  There was a very clear one way system in operation, though many people were not following this which was frustrating. Staff were trying their best to encourage customers to follow this and I saw them ask a few people to change direction. There were regular tannoys about the steps Asda were taking during this time. The sanitising stuff was way off to one side and not easily accessible from the queue. It looked a mess and I didn’t see anyone using it. Queue notices were near the very front of the queue. The entrance area of the store looked neat and orderly. There were a few customers in this area - fruit and vegetables - but the aisles here are wider than the other areas of the store so it was easier not to bunch up. The floor is marked with tape to indicate there is a one way system in operation and in this area customers were largely adhering to this although there were no staff members regulating it. There were staff members present but they were not engaged with customers at all but just shelf filling There was sanitiser and towels in the foyer, the signage was clear throughout the entrance both on the flooring, the doors and standalone notice boards. There was a lady on the entrance to the food that was allowing people onto the one way system in store. There were lots of relevant products and offers during our snaked entrance into the store such as toilet paper, lemonade and rolls (for BBQ) although the latter were all sold out. The store was very calm and ordered with no music playing; it was a very chilled atmosphere. Like outside, there were markings everywhere on the floor indicating 2 metre distancing and there was green promotional messaging dotted around store giving information to customers. There were no announcements at all whilst I was in store. Staff were around at tillpoints to guide customers to free till points.
Displays (up to 3)  3 0 0 3 3
Availability and replenishment (up to 5)  4 3 4 5 4
Feedback  The majority of the store was well stocked, I was impressed by the fact I could get flour and there was no shortage of toilet roll. The store had lots of pasta and pasta sauces. However, the shelves with tinned items like spaghetti in sauce were bare. Items that were notably absent were anti bac wipes, bleach, anti bac hand gel etc but this has been the same in every shop I have been in. There were lots of staff restocking sleeves and they were managing to stay out of customers way. Some sections were messy but not very much at all was bare The tinned and dry goods areas were low on stock and some areas were empty - eg noodles. Other areas were well stocked and staff were obviously making this a priority, albeit with no interaction with customers. Staff did not seem to be aware of social distancing either amongst themselves on the shop floor or with customers - there were several areas where staff members were very close together chatting. The store seemed really plentiful. I didn’t notice any gaps which is the first time I can say this in all of my COVID-19 weekly shopping. The staff were replenishing in the aisles but were very conscious of social distancing. All of my products were available and there were plenty of them in the store (even tins of chopped tomatoes!) Staff were working in the vegetable area and were restocking these sections. The wine area was well shopped and was out of stock on a few items but I think they could have dual sited around the store as I noticed wine promotions elsewhere in store. There was a promotional end at the back of the store near the freezers which was completely bare. Burger buns were out of stock due to the lovely sunny weather. Sun creams were dotted around the store on various promotional units - there was a buy one get one free on Nivea - these were all very well shopped also and down to the last few units. Flour and sugar were in scarce supply but this seems to be representative of all supermarkets in this current climate.
Obstructions  (up to 3)  3 2 2 3 2
Spillages (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Condition of the store in terms of cleanliness (up to 2)  2 1 1 2 2
Feedback N/A There were a couple of areas with boxes piled up, one at the side and the other in the middle of the aisle (photos sent). It looked quite untidy overall and had a vibe of not quite being on top of things, which is excusable in the circumstances. Although there were plenty of gondola offers I wouldn’t say anything looked like a great offer. Nothing seemed particularly attractive or seasonal, apart from plants and bbq items just outside the store. Approximately half the back of the store is taken up with Deli and fish counters which are closed. The store has chosen to place the large cages of goods for restocking against the counters. The effect of this is to narrow the main thoroughfare that people use to get from one part of the store to another if they are not following a “visit every aisle” strategy. The one way stickers on the floor encourage this but very few people were taking any notice and there were no staff asking people to do so. The result is the back of store aisle becomes very crowded and there is NO social distancing of any kind. People arrive at the end of an aisle, look down it to see if they need anything and then either move on or enter it - regardless of which direction they should be moving. People leaving the aisles are faced with other shoppers bunching up and it is an unpleasant and stressful environment. The store was very well organised, clean and tidy. Where the deli counters were closed the team had placed a big selection of beers which is ideal for the amazing weather we’re having. The lady cleaning the floor in the beer section was interacting with myself and another shopper with the most delightful manner. The store in general was immaculate and to a very high standard. I didn’t notice any spills anywhere and the floors were very clean and tidy with minimal litter. There was a large restocking trolley in the milk area which was causing a little obstruction. Two staff members were working on this and the area was quite busy with customers who were trying to dodge each other.
Store layout (10) 10 6 5 10 10
Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (up to 2)  2 2 1 2 2
Was it easy to navigate the store while also feeling safe? (up to 6)  6 4 2 6 6
Did the store offered any Click & Collect services? (up to 2) 2 0 2 2 2
Shop Floor Service (20) 19 6 9 15 18
Product location (up to 5)  5 0 0 3 5
Staff politness/responsiveness (up to 5)  5 0 2 5 5
Feedback Staff were extremely helpful. They either knew straight away that items were out of stock or checked out the back. Directions to where items were were extremely specific, eg the end of aisle 30 on the right hand side. While someone was checking out the back for me, another staff member stopped to check I was ok. She suggested that I continue my shopping and come back as due to the one way systems/social distancing it was taking them longer to navigate the store/check stock. I thought this was very nice of her. No staff around to help out. The only staff remotely nearby were queue controllers There were plenty of staff on the shopfloor but they were not customer facing. At no point did I receive an acknowledgement or smile. When I approached staff to ask about items that were missing or I could not find I was told that either the store didn’t stock them or they didn’t have any. There were no offers to look in the stock room or further information about new stock coming in. Assistance was minimal and not particularly friendly. The only items I couldn’t find / missed on my journey through the one way system was the olive oil. Once I had made my way to the end, I asked the lady who was managing the till queue where the olive oil was. She directed me to the correct aisle and location. I could only find 250ml or 1l bottles and asked Julia if they had any 500ml. She checked the aisle labels (keeping socially distant) and confirmed they couldn’t have it. She explained that they don’t have a complete range of products quite yet. I also asked her about the packs of 4 Tesco chopped tomatoes as I could only see singles (or packs of 4 branded tomatoes). She explained that if a product comes in plastic they aren’t stocking it any more, it would be paper packaging only (as the branded products were). As a keen recycler, I was really happy about this and utilised the multi-buy offer that Julia pointed out on the singles (3 for £1). I actually bought 4 singles (as I wanted to get a 4-pack). The lady cleaning the floor in the beer aisle had a lovely, happy manner, asking me if I could fit my trolley through the aisle (as she was working near a post). I could and went on my way. The lady behind me was in an electric chair and she seemed to be having fun whilst interacting with the member of staff too. She was just lovely. All staff members whom I had dealings with were very helpful and friendly. The two staff members (both male, 20’s) working on the milk section were very helpful and aided me on two separate queries - one helped me with the milk as there was no 6 pint version out on shelf; they checked the back of store and the system and advised it would be in on Monday. The other staff member went to the back to check on a variety of jam for me as there was none left on shelf. David helped me in the vegetable section, providing clear directions to the oranges but advised they did not stock satsumas currently but they had nectarines or clementines instead. A lovely and friendly staff member helped guide me to the tills.
Was it easy to find a member of staff (up to 3)  3 0 2 2 2
Were staff easy to identify through their uniform or name badges (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Staff presentation (up to 5)  4 4 3 3 4
Feedback Staff have obviously been given a choice about whether they wear masks/gloves. Some wore none, some wore one or the other, and some had both The only staff anywhere near the areas I could not obtain items from were maintaining the queue for checkout. I didn’t feel these would be the right people to ask as I assumed they couldn’t leave their posts. The only person I saw with a mask was the checkout operator. No-one seen in gloves. N/A Staff seemed very aware of socially distancing throughout my shop. I stayed for a while to see the lady on self-serve tills interact and again, she dealt with a couple of shoppers with their trolley in between her and them. All staff members were sympathetic to the social distancing measures and were polite and professional.
Tills and checkouts (20) 20 17 19 19 17