Waitrose staff meat counter butcher

Source: Steve Ringham

Our mystery shopper praised the attractive counters at Waitrose Egham

In a low-scoring week there was a tight tussle at the top as three stores vied for this week’s store of the week crown.

In the end it was the impeccable customer service of Waitrose Egham that saw off Sainsbury’s and guest retailer Iceland,

Waitrose notched up a score of 72 points thanks to staff who were responsive and helpful to our shopper. They were always available to deal with her enquiries with one staff member checking in the back for a missing item, and another advising on delivery dates for a product.

The store lost most of its marks due to availability issues. There were three out of stock lines while the fruit and veg section appeared quite empty, though restocking was taking place. And again staff who were restocking were “friendly and polite”, while keeping trolleys out of the way.

Sainsbury’s in Exeter came a close second with 70 points, scoring better on availability (the store even managed to deliver an increasingly rare full basket of 33 goods) but let down by service.

Our shopper described the store as being easy to navigate and that she “could find all the products I wanted, and the shelves were clean, tidy and well stocked”.

Our shopper suggested service quality appeared split between shop floor assistants and managers. Although staff members were “generally friendly and helpful” she felt the managers stocking the shelves appeared “distant and unapproachable”.

Our shopper was also hindered by lots of restocking trolleys that were in the way.

Iceland came close behind with 69 points, and like Waitrose scored full marks for shop floor service. Our shopper noted that “the staff were patient and helpful”, and guided our shopper to relevant items as well as checking the back for stock.

However, the store suffered from its poor layout and store standards. The entrance and first row were “cramped” with bulky displays, although the rest of the store was well-spaced. The grouping of items was “a little idiosyncratic”, with certain products in multiple locations.

Numerous restocking trolleys, some unattended, hindered shoppers. There were also some loose boxes, though these were being picked up.

Asda, Morrisons and Tesco trailed behind the frontrunners this week. Asda scored 57 points, doing well on service but poorly on store standards and availability.

The juice cabinet was “messy with big gaps” and “cardboard stuck to the bottom”. There were lots of gaps in the store, and three items were out of stock with one not stocked. But shop floor service was “exceedingly pleasant and helpful”, although seven of the staff were not wearing badges.

Morrisons scored 56 and also did well on service, but with very poor availability and store standards. Our shopper noticed a spillage in a fridge which was not being attended to. There were lots of restocking trolleys blocking shelves, though staff seemed apologetic.

Tesco came last despite good service, mostly due to its poor availability. Two items were out of stock and six were not stocked, giving a score of zero for availability.

Our shopper praised staff however: “the staff were friendly and generous with their time.” Although some of the shelves were empty, staff were “furiously restocking, miraculously without causing aisle obstruction”.