Waitrose wine display

Source: Andrew Jones Photography

Waitrose’s celebratory offers included wines, flowers and sweet treats

Jubilee festivities were the focus of this week’s Grocer 33 mystery shop, which took place on Friday evening (3 June).

The winner, Waitrose Saltash, had an “enticing” display of celebratory offers at the front of store, including wines, flowers and sweet treats. Our shopper said the store was clean, tidy and had wide aisles. The layout was also logical and our shopper found the overhead signage very helpful.

The food counters at the back of the store, including hot food, bakery, a fishmonger and a butcher, were well stocked and clean. Availability was good overall, though two items were out of stock and one not stocked. The “lovely”, helpful staff were another plus point.

Sainsbury’s in Richmond upon Thames was just one point behind. Our visitor said the store was particularly well stocked – only one item on our list was out of stock. It appeared well managed overall, and featured some “interesting products” as well as lots of items at discounted prices.

Shop floor staff were very helpful and attentive, but the same was not the case for the checkout assistant, who our shopper said “did the bare minimum” in terms of service.

The only other downsides were the poorly-looking gardening display, which had some damaged and drying plants that “needed attention”, and the bakery, which wasn’t very visually appealing.

Overall though, the mystery shopper said this was a good shop, if lacking “some pizzazz”.

Next up was Tesco’s Wakefield branch. While this small store “could not be considered impressive”, our shopper said it was clean and tidy. It also performed fairly well on availability considering its size. Only one of our items was out of stock, and three others on our list were not stocked.

The knowledgeable, helpful and friendly staff were the highlight of the visit. Particular praise went to the checkout assistant, who was extra friendly and in a great mood.

Lower scores were attributed to layout & services, as there was no click & collect area nor a food-to-go section. There was only one counter: a bakery.

Meanwhile, fourth-placed Morrisons had a much tougher time than its rivals when it came to availability. Some 11 of our items were not available, with eight out of stock and three not stocked. Overall, there were lots of shelf gaps, particularly in the fruit & veg section.

On the positive side, the store was “spotlessly clean” and all the shelves were tidy. The promotional displays too had great presentation, and the food counters – especially the make-your-own-pizza one – were all very eye-catching.

Staff were happy to help, and appeared focused on providing excellent service. Our visitor said the store was quiet, which made for a relaxing shopping experience.

Lastly, Asda’s Leamington Spa branch failed to impress. The store did not feel welcoming, with the fruit & veg aisle disorganised, empty boxes strewn around and unmanned stocking trolleys in aisles.

All the food counters, including the bakery, appeared to have been shut, but there was no signage explaining why. Our visitor said that, while none of the staff were rude, they also weren’t overly helpful and never offered to walk to a product when asked about its location. 

Even though our shopper found most of what was required, with two items out of stock, they would not be keen to return to the store, which earned 39 points.