Waitrose solihull wine aisle

Source: Mystery shopper

Waitrose took first place in this week’s Grocer 33 after its Solihull branch delivered excellent customer service and good availability.

Only two items on our list were out of stock, but our mystery shopper would have been happy with the alternatives if this were her regular shop. She also singled out the food counters for their pleasing appearance.

While staff appeared busy, several of them were helping customers. One colleague went out of her way to help on different occasions, and proved knowledgeable about availability. Our visitor also highlighted her positive interaction with the till assistant, at a level she “rarely” saw at supermarkets.

The aisles felt wide and clean, and the only real disadvantage to this medium-sized store was that the layout was not particularly intuitive.

Next up was Asda’s High Wycombe store with 77 points. This branch too scored maximum marks for shop floor service, due to staff being helpful in finding products, as well as strong availability.

Our shopper added the store was clean and standards were good. Upon entrance, she was impressed by the “attractive” clothing and stationery aisles.

She also noticed the ranges reflected the “diverse” local community – including the Ramadan display, and halal and Polish fridges – with lots of eye-catching offers.

Our visitor said the store layout was good, except the vegan stock placement was not always intuitive. The store seemed to have suffered some damage following Storm Eunice – a large bucket was being used to catch leaking water.

Sainsbury’s came a close third with its Camberley branch scoring 76 points. This store had the best availability this week, with only one item out of stock and generally good supply levels. Our shopper said shelves looked neat, tidy and well stocked – which was impressive considering how busy it was.

The “attractive” beauty section caught her attention, as did the health & wellbeing area.

Staff were easy to find, though the one colleague she spoke to appeared “quite hesitant”. On the other hand, the checkout assistant was helpful, polite and chatty.

On the downside, it was hard to find a parking space and the car park layout was also slightly confusing.

Fourth-placed Morrisons followed with a solid 71 points. Its branch in Rothwell, Leeds, scored well on the shop floor service and availability fronts, with our shopper buying a total of 31 items. The same applied to store standards, as the shop floor was clean and tidy.

The plant and florist sections by the entrance gave it a welcoming vibe. The food counters were vibrant and attractive, and the free-from section was one of the store’s highlights.

However, the layout was not intuitive, which forced our visitor to double back several times. Plus, the busy checkouts resulted in lengthy waiting times – which she attributed to a lack of till assistants.

This week’s clear loser was Tesco. Its Tadcaster Road, York store failed to impress our shopper. Store standards were particularly poor, and our shopper noticed two areas where produce was leaking on to the shelves (sugar and flour).

Availability was also poor, with four of our items out of stock and one not stocked. When she asked staff for the missing items, they were not particularly knowledgeable or helpful – though the colleague who checked her proof of age was “very polite”.