Waitrose Easter

Waitrose’s Easter display impressed our shopper, as did its friendly staff. Source: The Grocer / Ravi Tanna Photography

Waitrose bagged its fourth service and availability win of the past six weeks as its Solihull branch delivered in our Easter-themed mystery shop.

The store notched up 80 marks as it came out top for availability and joint top for shop floor service. The only thing stopping our shopper talking home a full basket was that the store did not stock the required Higgidy rolls – though other variants were available.

The store was well laid out with clear signage that made it easy to navigate. When our shopper did need assistance, staff proved friendly and willing to help. The checkout operator was a star and encouraged our shopper’s son to pick up a free gingerbread panda.

Tesco’s Sheerness store in Kent took the runner-up spot this week with 74 points. There was one out-of-stock and one not-stocked item.

While availability was strong in terms of our shopping list our shopper spotted “quite a few gaps” across the store on this busy Friday evening.

The store was generally clean and tidy, but “the layout wasn’t particularly intuitive – and the signs didn’t fully match with the contents of the aisles”.

Our shopper did not require a lot of help during her visit but the one member of staff she spoke to was “very attentive” and took her to the chilled desserts section she needed. The cashier was also “friendly, chatty and efficient”.

Morrisons in Cambuslang scored 67. Just as with Tesco, our shopper picked up 31 items with one out-of-stock and one not-stocked product. The out-of-stock was the Cadbury Creme Egg 10-pack (the five-pack was available) and the not-stocked item was again the particular variety of Higgidy rolls.

The car park was tidy, with all of the trolleys returned neatly and the tidiness theme continued throughout the store.

Our shopper felt the store was “quite small but with an intuitive layout”. There were lots of staff available and our shopper noticed they were attentive and friendly. She was also impressed by the customer service offered by staff on the counters. When she needed help on a few occasions, staff took her to the items she needed and in the case of the out-of-stock Creme Eggs, checked in the stockroom. Sheila, the checkout operator, was “very friendly and warm”.

The two stores in fourth and fifth place both suffered from poor availability.

Asda in Walsall scored just 45, not helped by six out-of-stocks and one not-stocked item. There were also several areas with bare shelves and empty boxes strewn around. The Easter section was particularly messy, with lots of gaps.

There was litter at the entrance and throughout the store. Staff were friendly but not particularly helpful. One staff member took our shopper to where she thought the apple crumble would be – it was not there, but our shopper latter found it elsewhere.

Sainsbury’s Kensington & Chelsea store took last place with 41 points. Again, our shopper bagged just 26 items thanks to five out-of-stocks and two not-stocked items. There were a lot of staff restocking shelves during our shopper’s visit. While they did not cause obstructions they all seemed busy, meaning our shopper had to wait for them to finish before approaching them for assistance.

There were also serious issues with the checkout process. The manned tills were out of action, so shoppers were being forced to use the self-service tills, which had developed long queues.