Waitrose lower prices

Waitrose’s store was described as clean, tidy and easy to navigate

Waitrose in Newport, Shropshire emerged as the star performer in a generally solid week for most of the retailers.

The store scored 84 points, aided by a strong availability score. Our shopper picked up all bar one of the 33 items on our list: the artichokes. Beyond that, our shopper was impressed by the well-stocked fruit & veg section.

The store was clean and tidy, as well as being easy to navigate with clear and prominent shelf-edge labels. However, it was the excellent service that sealed the win this week.

Some staff carrying out picking for online orders did cause our shopper a minor obstruction. But elsewhere, one member of staff directed her to a product she was looking for, while another went to find a product on her behalf and volunteered further assistance.

The whole experience was described as “a very enjoyable shop”, rounded off on a positive note by a new checkout being opened for our shopper.

Second place went to Sainsbury’s Paignton, which scored 76 and also impressed on customer service. Our shopper asked for help twice, and both times the colleagues walked her to where she needed to go. However, a third staff member pointed to where a product would be and returned to her conversation before our shopper could say thanks.

A flower display in the entrance was described as “really lovely to walk into” and our shopper felt the store was simple to navigate. The store would likely have challenged for the win this week were it not for two out-of-stocks and two not-stocked items, which resulted in our shopper going home with just 29 items.

Tesco’s store in Trinity Square in Gateshead came third with 70 points. As with Sainsbury’s, two out-of-stocks limited its availability score. However, our shopper was impressed by the clear information on shelf as to when the next delivery of these items would be.

The store was “clean and spacious” and our shopper found it well laid out and easy to navigate. The biggest issue, however, was a less-than-positive interaction with one member of staff. Our shopper assumed he had not heard her, but he raised a finger to signal for her to wait. He did eventually respond to her query but made no apology.

Availability was the biggest concern at Morrisons in Peterborough, which scored 61. Our shopper left with 27 items due to three out-of-stocks and three not-stocked products.

The store was clean and, for the most part, easy to navigate. That was aside from a mix-up in the signage between the British and Italian ready meals and an obstruction in one aisle caused by multiple restocking trolleys.

Our shopper was frustrated that staff seemed hard to find. She also felt there wasn’t enough consistency in terms of staff uniform.

She was further annoyed by “an imbalance of main checkouts and self-service checkouts” with queues at all the main checkouts while the self-service area was very quiet.

The queues at Asda in Woking were much longer, however, resulting in our shopper waiting for over 10 minutes. Only two checkouts were open, which did not seem sufficient for a busy Saturday morning.

Availability was poor too. There were five out-of-stock items and three not-stocked lines. Our shopper also spotted a number of fixtures that were understocked including fruit & veg, bakery and food to go.

Staff were, however, generally very helpful.