Tesco picked up the hotly contested store of the week award in the run-up to Christmas, thanks to standout service and availability across the board.
Our mystery shopper heaped praise on the team at its Bourne Centre, Salisbury branch due to their “friendly, helpful and polite” attitude throughout her visit last Friday.
The store scored 88 out of 100 – and there were just eight marks separating the four top stores this week.
Our shopper’s only frustration was unclear signage, making some items tricky to locate. However, employees were on hand to help. One staff member working in the bakery spotted her struggling to find a product and made a notable effort to offer his assistance.
Sainsbury’s Lloyd Street, Altrincham took the runner-up spot. Although it dropped a few points due to a large stain on the floor, it achieved a strong performance overall.
Our shopper’s experience began with a positive first impression, with no outside queue, staff handing out clean trolleys to customers and SmartShop handsets being neatly laid out, which tempted our shopper to make use of the scan & pay system.
Our mystery shopper was also glad to see the team ensured restocking trolleys were kept out of customers’ way and found they seemed to “genuinely care” about her queries.
Sainsbury’s was closely followed by both Morrisons and Waitrose, which took joint third place with a score of 80.
Morrisons Newport was struggling with availability as our shopper spotted several departments with “no products at all” during her visit.
However our shopper was able to find the vast majority of items on her list, as there was just one out-of-stock and four not-stocked SKUs.
Service was mixed too, with some staff being “friendly” and others making no effort to find out when the next delivery of missing items was expected.
Waitrose in Meanwood, Leeds had two out of stock and three not-stocked lines and there were gaps in the bread and fruit and vegetable departments.
Empty boxes and abandoned trolleys made the aisles feel chaotic, and there was a spillage in the pasta section that had not been attended to when our shopper doubled back to check 10 minutes after first spotting it.
Her visit was rounded off with a “tedious” wait for the tills. However, that was redeemed by top-notch service from a new operator being trained by a colleague, who both quickly replaced two damaged items.
Asda in Stanley, Durham took last place, dropping points across the board due to its poorly executed coronavirus safety protocols.
The lack of a one-way entry and exit system made it “impossible” for our mystery shopper to keep a safe distance from fellow customers. This came in tandem with no face mask compliance checks or efforts to count shoppers.
Social distancing was made difficult in the aisles and at the checkouts by several abandoned restocking trolleys, and the team members charged with monitoring queues for the tills were chatting instead of focusing on their task. When our mystery shopper voiced his safety concerns to a team member, he was informed staff were “not allowed” to enforce protocols and it was “up to customers”.
The shopper had such a negative experience he said he would have “abandoned” his shopping trip if he hadn’t been taking part in the Grocer 33.
This week’s results:
|WEEK 27: Friday, 11/12/2020 (3.00pm - 6.00pm)||WINNER|
|Location||Stanley||Cardiff||Altrincham||Bounrne Centre, Salisbury||Meanwood|
|Time slot||3.00pm - 6.00pm||3.00pm - 6.00pm||3.00pm - 6.00pm||3.00pm - 6.00pm||3.00pm - 6.00pm|
|Car Park (10)||8||10||10||10||10|
|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||2||2||2|
|Queueing time from parking the car to enter the store (up to 3)||3||3||3||3||3|
|Feedback (up to 2)||0||2||2||2||2|
|Although there was no queue to enter, neither was there any way to avoid exiting customers as no one way system was in place. There was no-one counting numbers in or out nor were those entering without masks asked to comply with this requirement. No stickers in place to aid social distancing||Barriers were in place and there were two security guards by the doors to the store managing the flow of people. Posters were in place providing guidance on social distancing and masks etc.||Chatty lady handing out trolleys 1 at a time and welcoming you to the store. Barriers in place to make customers form a queue - not that there was one||The barriers meant that customers could only get in one way, a little way from the door. Notices about social distances and safety were large, and there was an electronic green light system letting people know if they could go in. There was lots of equipment for cleaning trolleys.||The store is situated in a district just outside of Leeds city centre. It is signposted well from the main road. Upon entry to the car park, despite it being hugely busy I was able to find a space pretty much immediately. The car park is one way but there was actually a car coming out the wrong way which was the only thing holding me up to parking immediately. Upon approach to the entrance (I entered the store from the car park entrance which is located one floor underneath the store so you access via a lift. There were no queues at all and a security guard who was situated at the door ushered me in. There were lots of white arrows on the floor indicating social distancing and plenty of signage regarding Covid and the store regulations.|
|Store standards (20)||10||16||16||17||12|
|First impression (up to 5)||1||3||5||3||3|
|Feedback||The trolleys had notices stating that they had ‘silver’ antibacterial technology to sanitise trolley handles. There was one small unsignpostedhand sanitising pump station right in the entrance, which most people bypassed; if it was generally put to use there would have been heavy congestion in the area. As there was no one way system, with entry and exit via the same relatively small portal it was chaotic and impossible to maintain any kind of distance from other shoppers; additionally because it was so congested the notice about safety measures was all but obscured - if I hadn’t been searching for it I may not have seen it at all. There was no-one controlling the entry, nor was there any check on people entering without masks.||It was a clean and well-ordered store.||Self checkout handsets laid out on a table as soon as you entered the store to be able to pick up easily. Announcement to say be considerate to some people who can’t wear masks due to medical conditions||N/A||I entered the store via the travelator and when I entered the store it felt quite busy and Christmassy. There was lots of Waitrose & Partners Christmas green promotional signage everywhere and I saw so many staff - there was literally someone on each aisle restocking the shelves. Safety measures such as hand sanitising stations were very visible at the entrance. Notices were dotted all around the store.|
|Displays (up to 3)||2||3||3||2||3|
|Availability and replenishment (up to 5)||3||3||2||5||3|
|Feedback||It was late in an obviously busy day. Both the fresh fruit and veg and chilled goods cabinet were devoid of some items; other areas were almost empty. Most of the other areas were partly emptied as you would expect but without having goods missing altogether There were few staff replenishing the shelves and none at all in these two areas.||The shelves were well stocked and stocked neatly however, there were a few sections where there were no products at all and were waiting to be restocked.||Just a couple of more unusual items asked for weren’t in stock …. all everyday things were present - no gaping holes anywhere Very tidy store - the trolleys with new stock to go out were positioned sensibly on wide isles to allow you still to access with your trolley||No aisles were stripped bare, and staff were on the shop floor replenishing in many places. The store was not messy - there were clearly one or two things dropped on the floor in store, but they must have been picked up reasonably quickly as there weren’t many.||Availability was generally good but a lot of sections in the store were very well shopped. As aforementioned staff were busy restocking however there were empty spaces in key areas such as bread and the vegetable section. The flowers area looked a little messy with empty boxes and stray bits of litter. The dry pasta section had an open packet spillage and there was a huge spillage just opposite the pasta on dry lentils. There were colleagues in this section restocking shelves but they did not tend to the area at this time. I was there for a good few minutes as I was actually trying to locate an item at the time.|
|Obstructions (up to 3)||2||3||3||3||2|
|Spillages (up to 2)||2||2||2||2||0|
|Condition of the store in terms of cleanliness (up to 2)||0||2||1||2||1|
|Feedback||This seems to be a relatively old store, floors have what look like long standing marks (not spillages) so that they look unappealing even though they were not really dirty. Similarly paintwork is tired (but clean). There was some litter on the floor and a lot of empty packaging on the shelves||Very clean store, it felt very spacious and I didn’t feel too close to other shoppers||I think the floor is starting to look a bit old and there was some sticky take covering something at 1 place - didn’t cause a safety issue the trolley went over it fine.||The aisles were wide and clean.||The store did seem a little messy in places but I do understand it could well have been the time of day. It wasn’t so much that staff were causing obstruction solely with the trolleys however other customers with their own abandoned trolleys were adding to the chaos and sometimes it was more of a challenge to get round. As mentioned there was a big spillage in the dry lentils section and dry pasta section; neither of which got tended to in the time I was on the aisle or when I revisited back five to ten minutes later.|
|Store layout (10)||4||7||8||7||10|
|Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (up to 2)||2||1||2||1||2|
|Was it easy to navigate the store while also feeling safe? (up to 6)||0||4||4||4||6|
|Did the store offered any Click & Collect services? (up to 2)||2||2||2||2||2|
|Shop Floor Service (20)||13||16||15||15||18|
|Product location (up to 5)||3||5||3||5||5|
|Staff politness/responsiveness (up to 5)||4||3||5||5||4|
|Feedback||Some staff were very helpful and polite, no-one offered to check backroom stocks or checked stocks in any other way. Two members of staff were not helpful, one (who was stocking shelves nearby) claimed not to work that area so could not tell me the location of the item I sought.||Staff were very friendly and helpful however, they did not make an effort to check out the back or advise when they are expecting new stock. One member of staff looked puzzled when I asked where the focaccia is.||Very nice staff - genuinely cared about your query||Staff were friendly, helpful and polite - i did have to ask a few to help me find some things and they were all excellent, particularly the man from the bakery who saw me struggling to find something and offered help.||Staff were very polite, friendly and helpful here. Luckily in most cases I hadn’t strayed too far from the product I was s looking for so it was a case of staff pointing in the direction of the exact location on the shelf. Staff were easy to identify; quite a few were wearing non-uniform but they had lanyards so they were easy identifiable.|
|Was it easy to find a member of staff (up to 3)||1||1||2||1||3|
|Were staff easy to identify through their uniform or name badges (up to 2)||2||2||2||0||2|
|Staff presentation (up to 5)||3||5||3||4||4|
|Feedback||No staff that I saw were wearing gloves, not all had masks or visors on and some had a mask on but pulled down from their noses. I did ask one person to pull the mask up when I wished to speak to her, which she did but when I went back to ask another question she had pulled it down again so I had to find another assistant. there was no attempt to distance from customers but in fairness I’d have to say not many customers were trying to distance from staff either||N/A||I find this every shop I go in - the customer service staff are close when they are doing a transaction process on the till you are self checking out from - I usually step right back||Staff were helpful, but they were a bit trickier to identify than usual as it was Christmas jumper day - so i think that was reasonable on this one day. Not all staff were taking part.||N/A|
|Tills and checkouts (20)||9||17||17||19||17|
|How well managed were the queues leading up to the till-operated checkouts in terms of maintaining order and social distancing? (up to 2)||0||2||2||2||1|
|How well managed were the queues leading up to the self-service checkouts in terms of maintaining order and social distancing? (Please observe after you’ve completed your shop, and include observations around attentiveness to customers requiring help due to flashing lights/unattended items in bagging area) (up to 2)||0||2||2||2||2|
|How long did it take to queue (prior to scanning) (up to 4)||4||4||4||4||2|
|Please rate checkout staff on their customer service and safety (up to 7)||2||4||5||6||7|
|Time for G33 items to be scanned (including payment) (up to 3)||3||3||2||3||3|
|Was the till receipt free of mistakes? (up to 2)||0||2||2||2||2|
|Feedback - please provide any further details/feedback on the tills and checkout:||There were no long queues with only one or two customers at each. there were screens between cashiers and customers. Some cashiers had mask or visors but not all and none had gloves. There were two members of staff by the tills but they were not directing customers or encouraging them to keep distanced ( the customer behind me was RIGHT behind me) and for most of the time I was going through they were chatting to each other about my request for information regarding Covid 19 precautions. Two items were marked on the shelves at one price and went through the till at another.||N/A||Love the self checkout system it so easy and self explanatory. Lots of tills open therefore hardly any queues …… staff always look clean and tidy||The tills were particularly fast. There were several with no customers at all so i could go straight though with no wait.||The queue for the checkout was a little tedious - at this time you just want to get home and have your dinner - it wrapped all the way at the back of the store in the childrenswear section. Six out of nine main tills were open; I’m not sure if they could have done anything further at this point to open more tills but I queued for around eight minutes before being directed to a checkout. A lovely young man served me on the checkout (name badge obscurred but had red hair and said it was his first day on the tills) with help from a female colleague with brown hair and glasses. They were both super helpful actually as there seemed to be an unknown milk spillage and they both came to my aid and replaced two of the products without question. They were quick, efficient and friendly. They did ask if I needed help with packing and made conversation throughout. There were five kiosk checkouts and five scan and go checkouts which were all choc-a-block too. The store seemed really busy by this point. Red lights were flashing to signify customers needing help at the scan and go checkouts but there were two staff members helping in this area.|
|Availability score (20)||17||14||15||20||13|
|Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:|
|Available (up to 20)||30||28||30||33||28|
|Out of stock (-2 per item)||0||1||2||0||2|
|Not stocked (-1 per item)||3||4||1||0||3|
|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||Half a leg of lamb||Own Label Apricots - substituted with Peach
Own Label Mango chunks - substituted with Melon & Pineapple Fingers
|N/A||The Hovis thick wholemeal bread was out of stock and was double faced with the medium version. However I decided to substitute with Hovis thick white bread which was readily available.
The 2 pints semi skimmed milk was out of stock and I considered a larger version before deciding I’d still get 2 pints semi-skimmed but from the Yeo Valley organic brand as I do love this brand and try to buy it when I can.
|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)||The store did not stock frozen ginger,
Schar gluten free waffles,
4 packs of bottled coca cola. I substituted a 4 pack of cans of Coca cola
Frozen country veg
Vanish stain remover in the size requested
|Own Label Country Vegetable Mix 1000g - substituted with Own Label Classic Veg Mix 1000g||N/A||The Schar gluten free waffles were not stocked at this store. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to substitute with for this product.
This store did not stock country vegetables; I considered many different options but the only mixed veg which contained broccoli like the country vegetables was a new steam bag version of frozen vegetables. This seemed like it would be really handy and an easy quick supper solution so I chose this as a substitute.
They did not stock Aero Bubbles Peppermint pouch bag so I chose a similar pouch bag with Maltesers instead.
|Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad||Some aisles were wide enough for 2 trolleys to pass but there were pillars obstructing others and an abandoned rubbish collection cage parked in the centre of one aisle. There was no one way system and distancing markers were only evident in some areas. I certainly did not feel safe or that the store had gone any way towards accommodating restrictions with regard to shopping in a tier three area.
I hope I have made clear how poor I think this store’s reaction to our present pandemic is; if this had not been a Mystery shop I would have abandoned it within minutes of entering the car park. I did question their lack of a one way system or social distancing measures and was told they were ‘not allowed’ to take any and that it was ‘up to customers’ to take the initiative themselves. The lady did however say that she would address the subject of staff not wearing masks or wearing them ineffectively. Although I don’t think the store represented itself very well in a broader sense I would point out it is quite old, has a wide range of At Home items as well as groceries and is heavily used by the local populace who have a limited choice of supermarkets- therefore it is always busy
|The period of time I went shopping felt very quiet and therefore there was less staff around to ask for help||This store is lucky it has a separate little car park so the perfect place for click and collect orders.
Lots of neat end of isle displays - the Christmas Seasonal Isle looked lovely …..
Where the deli fridges are closed there is a big high display of Christmas wrapping and this disguises the emptiness well
|I was expecting a much busier store, but it was calm with lots of room to move around. The staff were very helpful, but it was difficult to find some things as it is very big. The signage for the aisles was a bit irritating - the signs along the middle of the store (parallel to the front of the store) are only for the front row of aisles - so to see what was in the row at the back of the store i had to keep going to the back of the store. It may be clearer when there are fewer christmas decorations up.||Note due to having a mywaitrose card and spending over £10 I was able to select a free newspaper.|
|TOTAL SCORE (100)||61||80||81||88||80|