Waitrose easter eggs aisle

Source: Mystery shopper

Waitrose is currently in a purple patch when it comes to service and availability, taking its fifth award in the past six weeks.

Our shopper praised the great customer service and strong availability during her trip to its Nine Elms branch in Battersea, which took the store of the week title with a score of 86.

The entrance was well marshalled and, once inside, our shopper was impressed by the well-stocked and attractive service counters, as well as the store’s Valentine’s and Easter displays.

The friendly and courteous staff contributed to an “extremely easy and pleasant” shopping experience.

She was able to pick up all items bar two not-stocked lines, and when she did notice a couple of gaps on shelf, staff were on hand to replenish without causing any disruption.

Sainsbury’s and Asda came joint second with 71 points this week. Both stores had strong customer service but lost marks due to poor availability.

Employees at Sainsbury’s in Crawley were “very helpful” from the start, promoting Sainsbury’s SmartShop option and cheerily escorting our shopper to any items he couldn’t find. He was able to spot the majority of products on his list, however, thanks to its “intuitive” layout. 

Availability let it down, as he only went home with 29 items due to four out of stocks.

Availability was even worse at Asda in Gillingham, with six products out of stock.

On the plus side, our shopper praised the well-executed Covid-19 measures, particularly employees’ strong enforcement of social distancing.

The high level of service was noted as a plus point, too. The team pointed her in the direction of products when asked and the cashier was “polite and friendly” to boot.

The mystery shopper’s trip to Tesco in Stretford, Manchester began with him struggling to negotiate an obstructive queue of vehicles for the click & collect service in the car park.

Social distancing was tricky to maintain, as queues formed in various aisles owing to a lack of open tills. Our shopper waited around 15 minutes to pay as a result, but the operator was “polite and efficient” while serving him.

Overall, staff made good use of their mobile devices to share stock information with our shopper, but one team member appeared “inconvenienced” when he approached them for assistance.

While our shopper spotted some gaps across the store, availability was strong with just one out of stock.

Guest retailer Lidl on Burton Street, Leicester also only had one out of stock product.

Restocking trolleys took up a lot of space in its narrow aisles and the mystery shopper had to dodge a spillage on the shopfloor.

Some employees were happy to escort her to products she was looking for, while others pointed her in the vague direction. Service at the tills disappointed our shopper too, and she found the operator “brisk”.

The Morrisons store in Kettering Road, Northampton came last with just 51 points. The biggest issue was its untidiness, with our shopper describing it as “one of the messiest” shops she had visited.

Several areas were “fairly empty”, particularly the pro-duce department, albeit there were only two out of stock items in our basket.

Staff were focused on replenishment and picking online orders but were “helpful” when answering her questions.


This week’s results:

WEEK 34: Sunday, 14/02/2021 (1:00pm - 4:00pm)    WINNER 
  Asda Morrisons Sainsbury’s Tesco Waitrose  Lidl
Location Gillingham Northampton Crawley Stretford Nine Elms, London Leicester
Date  14/02/2021 14/02/2021 14/02/2021 14/02/2021 14/02/2021 15/02/2021
Time slot  1pm - 4pm 1pm - 4pm 1pm - 4pm 1pm - 4pm 1pm - 4pm 1pm - 4pm
Shop starts 02:00pm 01:18pm 01:22pm 02:15pm 01:20pm 01:48pm
Visit Duration 01:25 00:59 01:00 01:25 01:20 01:02
Shop Duration 01:25 01:06 01:05 01:40 01:45 01:06
Car Park  (10) 9 5 6 9 8 10
Car park management (3) 2 2 2 2 3 3
Queueing time to park and finding a parking space (2) 2 0 1 2 0 2
Exiting the car park (2) 2 1 0 2 2 2
After exiting your car please rate your experience before entering the store? (3) 3 2 3 3 3 3
Feedback  The car park was well managed, trolleys were in place and manned by trolley staff and sanitiser stations were present It was easy to find a spot, walk to get a trolley and then I walked straight in. There were barriers around the entrance and exit so you couldn’t mix and there was one cleaning station just inside the door but if too many people waited for this it would have caused a massive jam. People were wiping down their tolleys. Easy to find a space but trolleys were over packed at their stations There was no queue to enter the car park and it was easy to find a space. There were staff available to guide staff at the entrance and there was a sanitisation station available. However, there were a few items of litter in the car park. There was no queue of cars to enter or leave the carpark. There were plenty of car parking spaces. There were two lifts from the carpark to the store and there was a staff member present to ensure that people queued correctly, maintained social distancing and only one household at a time used the lift. There were plenty of signs to reinforce these messages. The staff member was also ensuring that those exiting the lift moved in the opposite direction to the queue to avoid close contact. The carpark was very clean and tidy throughout. There was a sanitiser station for cleaning trolleys which were taken up to the main store when cleaned. Not busy, no attendant, tidy
Store standards (20) 17 6 16 16 18 12
First impression (6) 6 0 6 6 6 4
Displays (4) 4 2 2 2 3 2
Fruit & vegetables section (3) 1 1 3 2 3 3
Store standards - remaining sections (3) 2 1 2 2 3 2
Obstractions (2) 2 0 1 2 1 0
Spillages (2) 2 2 2 2 2 1
Feedback Stock levels of produce were quite low but the store was clean and tidy on both entry and departure This was probably one of the messiest stores I have visitied with restacking trolleys but mainly just boxes left on the floor. Many shelves looks fairly empty in the fruit and veg section although I did manage to get everything I needed. The offers weren’t particularly nice to look at on entrance, just stacked on pallets, but the pricing is very good so I suppose thats enough. The store just felt messy as I walked around but calm. There were quite a few staff dotted about doing a mix of unpacking and picking internet orders. Some shelves were empty but overall good range of products The store was generally clean and tidy. There was a large Valentine’s Day promotion at the front of store with a variety of chocolates, wine and flowers on display. However, some of the displays were largely depleted. The fruit and veg section was mostly well stocked, save for a few noticeable gaps. The rest of the store was generally well stocked and well maintained. The store looked good from both the outside entrance and the lift entrance from downstairs.  Clean trolleys and baskets were readily available and the self scan facility was close by and fully stocked.   All areas of the store were well stocked and items were displayed neatly and attractively.  There were good end of aisle displays or hot cross buns for Easter,  East Asian foods for Chinese New Year and cleaning items for spring cleaning.  There was a whole wall at the back of the store devoted to Easter eggs.  There was a chiller promoting the Valentines Day dine in for 2 deal for £20 and there was good availability of all items in the deal with lots of choice.  There was little need for restocking but where it was taking place staff were aware of customers moving in the area and standing back to allow access safely.  There was one trolley that was left unattended in an aisle but others were pushed to the aisle end and to the side.  Aisles are wide enough to allow two trolleys to pass easily and the queuing system from the carpark meant a limited number of people in the store at any one time.   There was one broken unit in the fruit and veg section which had been taped up to alert customers to it although it did have a sharp edge visible. Overall, very well stocked but several restocking trolleys taking up space in narrow aisles, one spillage with wet floor sign
Store layout and services (10) 9 4 7 6 10 4
Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (4) 3 2 3 4 4 2
Available services (6) 6 2 4 2 6 2
Feedback The layout was easy to navigate with 2 metre distancing signs clearly in place think Morrisons does have a good range of counters for fresh and cooked food. The store was quite easy to navigate due to the visable signage and staff were happy to help. Was asked on entry if i would like to use the shop as you service. Wide aisle too. The store was logically laid out and the signage was adequate. Click and Collect was available, however, due to its location, it occasionally caused an obstruction to cars entering the car park. Food to go was available, however, the hot food displays were largely empty. Click & collect was well signposted inside the store and there was good advertising of the service visible from outside on the windows and using A boards outside.  Food to Go consisted largely of sandwiches, salads and other cold items which were well packaged and had good availability.  There is also a Sushi bar in the store.  There were meat and fish counters with good displays of fresh produce and helpful staff. Store services were limited to a bakery with an abundance of different products, well presented and maintained
Shop Floor Service (20) 19 12 20 13 20 13
Finding a member of staff (5) 5 3 5 3 5 3
Shop floor staff helpfulness in locating items  (5) 4 4 5 3 5 3
Shop floor staff  diligence and hard work in replenishing shelves and picking in-store orders  (5) 5 3 5 3 5 4
Staff presentation (5) 5 2 5 4 5 3
Feedback I had to ask for some items to be located - which I was pointed to with ease. I engaged with 4 members of staff , 2 had name badges I could read, one had a black jumper on with no name badge and the checkout lady had a coat over the top so couldn’t see her name badge and she told me she was freezing. All in all, their presenation was ok, although one girl had very long hair that wasn’t tied back, nor was the checkout lady’s hair tied back. George was very well presented. But they were all helpful once asked. Asked for help to the Pitta breads and took me to the location, very helpful. The staff were reasonably helpful and friendly. When I asked a female staff member with brown hair where the Crabbies Giner was, she helpfully used her phone to identify their location on the shelf. When I asked a female staff member with fair hair where the walnuts were, she directed me to the correct location. When I asked a female staff member with dark hair whether there was any cottage cheese with pineapple available, she used her phone to confirm that they were out of stock. However, she didn’t smile and appeared inconvenienced. There were lots of staff available and they were very happy to assist customers in finding items and answering other questions.  They were happy to take customers to the right areas and not  just point or give verbal directions.  When restocking staff were proactive in moving out of the way to allow customers access so there was good social distancing maintained.  All staff were neatly presented in the correct store uniform.  All were wearing face masks except one who had a clear badge that said she was exempt from wearing one. Some workers were wearing dirty masks, or wearing masks incorrectly. One worker directed me to the general area of a product, another worker accompanied me to the shelf and showed me it wasn’t there
Tills and checkouts (20) 17 12 18 9 14 8
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) 5 3 5 0 4 4
How long did you have to queue? (5) 3 3 5 0 3 0
Please rate checkout staff on their customer service (8) 7 4 6 7 7 2
 Was the till receipt free of mistakes? (2) 2 2 2 2 0 2
Feedback The cashier was friendly and polite however on returning home I noticed ( via the receipt ) that she had duplicated scanning the cottage cheese that I purchased. The lady at the till was nice, quite quiet but said hello, She didn’t rush through the shopping but did say how cold she was and that the heating in the staff canteen had broken and wouldn’t be fixed because of Coronavirus. She said goodbye. No queues, check-out lady was polite and friendly. There were several queues half way along the aisles due to there not being enough tills open. I also noticed there were no floor markings or staff on hand to help guide customers. After a 15-minute wait, the cashier greeted me and began scanning my shopping. The cashier service was polite and efficient, if a little basic. When I asked for a replacement bag, the cashier obliged and handed me a new one. After scanning, I was then asked for payment. Finally, I was thanked for my custom and handed my receipt. There were empty tills at one end of the till line with small queues at the other end but no staff member was moving customers along and the screens between the tills make it difficult to see where the gaps are or even which till is staffed. Queues were however small with just one other person ahead of me. The staff member on the till was leaving for a break when it was my turn to be served but she smiled and said “my colleague will assist you” and the handover was very quick and efficient. Items were well handled and scanning was done easily with no mistakes. There was one item that did not have a shelf label so the price was unknown (asparagus) and one item (grapefruit) had a shelf label of 60p but I was charged 70p. Very fast, efficient, brisk
Availability score (20) 0 12 4 16 16 16
 Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:             
Available (up to 20) 26 31 29 32 31 32
Out of stock (-4 per item) 6 2 4 1 0 1
Not stocked (-2 per item) 1 0 0 0 2 0
Number of items bought (incl.subs) 31 33 31 33 33 32
Availability % 81.3 93.9 87.9 97.0 100.0 97.0
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) Product 1: Own Label Milk Chocolate Digestives 300-400g 400g
Product 2: Own Label Red Grapefruit 1ea
Product 3: Own Label Bunched Asparagus 150-250g 200g
Product 4: Own Label Large Flat Mushrooms 250G-300G 250g
Product 5: Own Label Whole Walnuts 150g-200g 200g
Product 6: Own Label Liquorice Allsorts 200G-250G 250g
Product 1: Pork and Caramalised Onions
Product 2: Basmati Rice 1kg
Product 1: Own label Basmati Rice 1000g
Product 2: Own label Chickpeas in water 400g
Product 3: Own label Whole Walnuts 200g
Product 4: Own label Liqourice Allsorts 250g
Product 1: Own label healthy low fat cottage cheese with pineapple 250-300g N/A Product 1: Own label chickpeas in water
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: Crabbies Ginger N/A N/A N/A Product 1: 200g whole walnuts
Product 2: Own label licorice allsorts
Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad It was a pleasant shop however I was disappointed that stock levels were low meaning I had to make some substitutes. The social distancing measures in place in store were good and clear and easy to spot and the queues were not too long. Also, the store was relatively tidy with lots of staff visible around. I actually quite enjoyed the shop here, even though the store was messy and it felt like things had just been dumped around the shop, it felt calm, wasn’t too busy and the staff helpful enough. It wasn’t noisy from any announcements. I could get everything I needed, with only 2 subsitutions for a similar product. Overall experience was very good, I like the space you get in the store and how the large signage is displayed. Friendly staff and lots of choice. I purchased plain low fat cottage cheese as a substitute for the pineapple variety. At the checkout, I was given a coupon for £10 off when spending £75 or more on electricals. This was an extremely easy and pleasant shopping experience with staff obviously working hard to make it so.  The queueing system worked well to ensure limited numbers in the store so there was no problem with social distancing, cleanliness is emphasised throughout and is obvious and staff are on hand to assist in each department.  All staff including the security staff at the entrances were pleasant and courteous at all times.  The store is very well stocked and is easy to navigate with everything in the logical place and no need to backtrack.  Till staff were efficient and careful with scanning and matched their speed to my packing speed.  This was an excellent shop with the only two non stocked items having an easy alternative (larger bag of walnuts and different label allsorts). Shelves generally well stocked, staff were not in every aisle but the store was small enough to find one easily. The location of some products was unclear but I found them eventually
TOTAL SCORE (100) 71 51 71 69 86 63