waitrose confectionery aisle

Source: Mystery shopper

Waitrose raced to victory as availability issues hampered rivals on this week’s late Friday afternoon shop.

The winning store in Harrogate scored highly across all categories thanks to a calm store, friendly staff and a faultless checkout.

Only one item was missing from our shopper’s basket as a result of white wine vinegar being temporarily out of stock.

The standards score was affected by a “messy” fresh produce area, while a restocking trolley in the hair & beauty aisle made it tricky for our shopper to dodge other customers.

But social distancing was strong at the Waitrose branch, with good queue management outside, plenty of floor markings and notices, and hand sanitiser and wipes for trolleys.

Staff were also friendly and helpful, with some accompanying our shopper to the relevant aisles.

“All staff members were respectful of the social distancing and helped customers to comply within the store by guiding them in the correct direction where possible,” our mystery shopper said.

A “spacious, calm and ordered” Tesco in Leicester scored well, with lots of room on the shop floor for customers and staff making for a “reassuring” experience. Barriers and stickers helped with the queue outside, but no staff managed the line to aid social distancing.

The majority of shelves were well stocked, with staff busy replenishing where necessary. Four products (two out of stock and two not stocked) were unavailable.

“The shop was pleasant,” our shopper said. “However, staff could have done more to enforce one-way systems and social distancing between customers.”

Lots of empty shelves at Sainsbury’s in Dronfield affected the availability score, with rhubarb, cauliflower, mangoes and medium-sliced Hovis all out of stock.

Almost all staff members were busy replenishing shelves, resulting in lots of obstructions. Our shopper’s interactions with staff were mostly negative, receiving abrupt responses to her requests for help.

However, our shopper was impressed by a trolley filled with orange Sainsbury’s umbrellas outside for waiting customers in case of rain. Staff also wiped down trolleys for shoppers entering the store and social distancing measures in-store were “exceptionally good”. Checkout was a highlight, with a friendly and chatty till assistant using a spray to wipe down the area before scanning.

Eight products were unavailable at Morrisons in Bracknell, including sour cream, self-raising flour, caster sugar, Sprite and Gordon’s gin. However, the empty shelves didn’t look messy and staff went out of their way to help despite being busy restocking. However, marks were lost at the checkout thanks to a long queue and mistakes on the receipt.

Our shopper in Liverpool was unimpressed with Asda, finding zero management of social distancing. The store was busy inside with customers ignoring the one-way system and no staff around to provide guidance.

“Some aisles were packed with customers stopping in the middle with their trolleys, making it impossible to pass,” our shopper said. “It did not feel like a particularly safe shopping environment.”

Availability was also extremely poor, with 10 items missing from the basket and noticeably reduced choice across categories including personal care, tinned, bread, meat and ice cream.

This week’s results:

WEEK 50: Friday 05/06/2020 (3.00pm-6.00pm)    WIINNER
  Asda Morrisons Sainsbury’s Tesco Waitrose 
Location Liverpool Bracknell  Dronfield Leicester Harrogate
Date  05/06/2020 05/06/2020 05/06/2020 05/06/2020 05/06/2020
Time slot  3pm-6pm 3pm-6pm 3pm-6pm 3pm-6pm 3pm-6pm
Shop starts 03:05pm 04:15pm 05:15pm 04:45pm 05:12pm
Visit Duration 01:15 01:40 01:10 00:55 01:16
Shop Duration 01:10 01:30 00:50 00:47 01:02
Car Park  (10) 10 10 5 9 9
Signposting (up to 1) 1 1 1 1 1
Queueing time to park (up to 2) 2 2 2 2 2
Trolleys (up to 2) 2 2 1 2 2
Queueing time from parking the car to enter the store (up to 3) 3 3 0 3 2
Feedback (up to 2)  2 2 1 1 2
  There was a staff member with a mask on at the entrance to the store who was letting people in a few at a time. He appeared to be clicking a machine as he did so. Barriers were in place so customers could enter and exit the store safely. A queue of people had formed along the side of the store, standing behind the markers which were clearly visible along the floor to keep everyone at a two metre distance. A huge banner could be seen outside encouraging people to social distance along with signs in the store windows. Barriers were in place, floor markings in place. Security guard managing entry process, friendly and smiling. The car park looked fairly empty on arrival and I was able to park right outside the entrance/exit. The car park was immaculate, with plenty of spaces and bays for disabled customers and parents. I also spotted a cycle park. At first I thought I’d been lucky and arrived at a quiet time however I soon realised that there was a long queue snaking around the edge of the car park. I counted around 25 people were ahead of me. The area for queuing was marked out with a line of trollies and people were using the parking space markings to socially distance. As you got closer to the store entrance there was tape on the floor indicating 2 metres, although this wasn’t as clear as I have seen at other stores and it was peeling off in places. As you got closer to the front of the queue there were boards out stating ‘Please queue here’, ‘Please keep distance to 2 metres’ and ‘Help stop the spread’ (by using the Smart shop app). I hadn’t heard about the Smart shop app previously so I used my time in the queue to download the app and read how it worked. I’ll be using this next time I shop at Sainsburys. There was one member of staff at the front of the queue with sanitisation supplies in an empty trolley. She was wiping each trolley as they were returned and controlling entry to the store (one in one out at the time). I could also see a trolley containing orange Sainsbury’s umbrellas, which I thought was a nice touch for customers who might find themselves queuing in an unexpected rain shower (as long as the handles had been sanitised of course). Barriers were provided as were stickers, and were being used effectively by other customers. The only member of staff was stationed behind the doors of the entrance to let people in, no staff outside to guide customers or aid social distancing. Waitrose Otley is located on the perimeter of the town centre and you can enter on either side of the building - both sides are clearly marked. Upon entering the car park I was able to find a space immediately. There were plenty of parking spaces including parent and child and disabled. Trolleys were available near the entrance and were being distributed by a staff member in a hi-vis jacket who was standing by the entrance and guiding the queue/greeting customers who approached the front. Silver crosses on the floor indicated the two metre distance rule. Closer to the store (beyond where the cash machines were located) there are green round markers saying things like “speedy shopping” and “NHS worker? Please let us know and we will help you shop quickly”. As aforementioned, staff members in hi-vis jackets were placed at front of queue asking if customers wanted a trolley. They were friendly and helpful. I believe the staff member had a counter so they were actually checking the traffic/amount of people in the store at any one time. Whilst queuing I noticed there was a drain which was a little clogged and looked like it could have done with clearing.
Store standards (20) 8 15 12 17 16
First impression (up to 5)  0 3 3 3 4
Feedback  Once I entered the store it was like all the social distancing people had been doing outside had just been forgotten. I didn’t notice any staff or hand sanitiser in the vicinity, and one customer was just stood by the entrance in the way as if waiting for someone. It was immediately apparent that the store was quite busy and not much attention was being paid to the one way system marked out on the floor. N/A The store looked virtually empty on entrance. The aisles were very wide and there were very few customers in the area. My first thought was they could probably afford to let a few more people in to reduce the queue outside but having said that, it was highly pleasing to be able to shop in such a quiet store. I couldn’t see any hand sanitiser stations in the store, however there was more tape on the floor marking 2 metres and footprint stickers which may have been indicating a one way system but there was no signage saying as such, so it wasn’t entirely clear. I heard one or two announcements during my shop reminding customers of the important of keeping their distance etc but this wasn’t intrusive. The entrance seemed very spacious, calm and ordered. The store was large and did not have an excess of staff or customers on the shop floor. Positive impression The store had a calm, serene environment. There was no music playing and both staff members and customers were getting on with their tasks quietly. Hand sanitiser and wipes were available to clean the trolley. The store had plenty of noticed dotted around the store which echoed the markers outside the store. There were leaflets available at the customer services desk also. Note there were no announcements made at the time of my shop.
Displays (up to 3)  1 2 3 3 3
Availability and replenishment (up to 5)  1 4 3 4 3
Feedback  The handwash and bath/shower sections still have a noticeably reduced choice, with lots of empty gaps on the shelves. The same could be said for the meat section, tinned foods, bread and ice cream sections. I saw very little in the way of stock being replenished. I noticed two staff members during my whole shop who appeared to be putting a few items on a shelf, and their restocking trolleys looked quite bare. None of the shelves looked particularly bare but where items were not available, there were gaps but they were not messy. Staff were busy in the aisles replenishing stock The store had many empty shelves at the time of my visit and almost all staff members were busy replenishing stock. As a result there were many cages and boxes in and around the aisles, which had the store been busier, may have prevented shoppers from maintaining a safe distance. All members of staff were working quickly to get the stock out and remove the obstructions as fast as possible, although in the freezer section one aisle was impassable from one end, so I had to walk down the next aisle and walk up from the opposite end (possibly going against the one way system in the process!). By the time I had located the frozen items I needed in the aisle, the obstruction had been cleared. The areas with the lowest stock levels were in the fruit and veg section, frozen goods and bakery. The majority of the shelves were well stocked, ordered and attractive to customers. Some areas were being replenished, while others were not. No shelves were stripped bare. The vegetable area was a little messy with bits on the floor and a section of carrots gone with only one bruised carrot left in that part (there were more carrots available underneath). There were staff replenishing the health and beauty section with a restocking trolley in the aisle but this is where the queue for customers waiting for the till. It was a bit tricky dodging people (especially as I needed a product from this area) and there was a bunch of haircare items left on the floor. Chocolate was well shopped with many Lindt varieties completely gone. Ice lollies were also well shopped with a big part of the freezer completely empty. The white wine vinegars were temporarily unavailable too so this part of the shelf looked bare. Generally other than these, the store was of an average standard.
Obstructions  (up to 3)  2 2 0 3 2
Spillages (up to 2)  2 2 2 2 2
Condition of the store in terms of cleanliness (up to 2)  2 2 1 2 2
Feedback The store was clean, tidy and free of litter. A couple of large, empty restocking trolleys were in my way but it wasn’t long before these were moved. The cafe area was closed due to Covid and was being used to store plants and some garden furniture. Whilst not untidy, it didnt look particularly appealing as it wasnt laid out in a nice way. The store was generally very clean and tidy, however there was one area in the fruit and veg section that looked like there had been a spillage or leak that had been attended to as there was a bucket on an upturned crate and a yellow cleaning cone. Some of the fridges looked slightly grubby in the empty areas but there was no litter or noticeable damage to the flooring or store décor. The store seemed very clean, bright and tidy which was surely reassuring to customers in the current climate. The floor near the vegetable section was quite messy with lots of peelings but the store was otherwise to a good standard. As mentioned externally there was a drain pipe near the exit which was blocked and had litter surrounding it.
Store layout (10) 10 5 10 9 10
Did the store layout seem logical and intuitive? (up to 2)  2 1 2 1 2
Was it easy to navigate the store while also feeling safe? (up to 6)  6 2 6 6 6
Did the store offered any Click & Collect services? (up to 2) 2 2 2 2 2
Shop Floor Service (20) 11 15 9 15 17
Product location (up to 5)  0 3 0 5 5
Staff politness/responsiveness (up to 5)  5 4 3 4 4
Feedback One male staff member in his twenties appeared friendly and apologetic when telling me “we don’t do them anymore sorry, “ when I was trying to find the stuffing balls. Another male staff member in his forties, who I think was quite senior as he was wearing a smart shirt, took the trouble to explain to me that they were having a few difficulties with the suppliers which may be why the kebabs I wanted weren’t in the meat aisle, but he told me that they should hopefully be getting some in. I couldnt find the Castello Brie cheese. I asked an assistant was out of stock or did they not stock that item. She looked through the other Brie cheeses and said if its not there we dont stock it. I couldnt find the 700ml Gordons Gin, the shelf was empty inbetween the 1L and the 500ml. I asked if they had any in stock and the assistant went out to look. On his return, he checked the special offers at the end of the aisles. He apologised for there not being any in stock and advised that the alcohol deliveries took place on a Friday night so if I was able to return on saturday morning there should be some available. The fruit and veg section was very bare and I had trouble locating three of the items on my list. There was a female member of staff, in full uniform, with a trolley, so I asked her if she could help me find some of the items. She was quite abrupt with me and simply said ‘No I can’t’, without further explanation. I then asked her if it was a case of if it wasn’t on the shelf it wasn’t in stock and just said ‘I don’t know’. I carried on looking on my own but couldn’t find any other members of staff to approach as they were either on tills or at the far end of the store restocking. I eventually found the labels for the missing items on empty shelves and assumed they were out of stock. I later encountered the same member of staff further along in my shop and realised that she had probably finished her shift and was doing her own shopping but I think as she was still in uniform and therefore still representing the store, she could have been more helpful. I later approached Jake to help me locate the guacamole - I had located the right section but couldn’t find the brand on my list. He said that they probably didn’t stock it as there was only the own label version on the shelf but he checked on his hand held device to confirm and was generally very polite and helpful. They didn’t check in the back, but gave me details of when it had gone out of stock and when I could expect to see it again A lovely staff member (a manager as he was dressed in white shirt and tie) called Steve accompanied me to the Free From section as this was where one of my products was actually located instead of the Cereal section where I expected it to be. He said other customers had done exactly the same with this particular product. Another staff member Hannah pointed out where the white wind vinegar would be but did not take me - it was only the next aisle. Generally staff members were very friendly and helpful.
Was it easy to find a member of staff (up to 3)  1 2 0 3 3
Were staff easy to identify through their uniform or name badges (up to 2)  2 2 2 0 2
Staff presentation (up to 5)  3 4 4 3 3
Feedback The staff members I spoke to maintained a safe social distance when talking to me. N/A The social distancing measures in store were exceptionally good. The store was so quiet that I only had to wait once or twice for other customers to move along to e able to get to the items I was looking for. It also has to be said that all of the other customers were fastidiously following the safe distance guidelines, which in my experience is very unusual. Due to the high level of restocking going on at the time of the shop, there were a few occasions that I had to wait for staff members but they were all at pains to keep a safe distance as I passed by. All members of staff that I engaged with kept a safe distance and some were wearing gloves but not face masks. N/A All staff members were respectful of the social distancing and helped customers to comply within the store by guiding them in the correct direction where possible.
Tills and checkouts (20) 14 14 19 15 20
 How well managed were the queues leading up to the till-operated checkouts in terms of maintaining order and social distancing?  (up to 2)  0 2 2 2 2
How well managed were the queues leading up to the self-service checkouts in terms of maintaining order and social distancing? (Please observe after you’ve completed your shop, and include observations around attentiveness to customers requiring help due to flashing lights/unattended items in bagging area)  (up to 2)  1 1 2 0 2
 How long did it take to queue (prior to scanning) (up to 4)  4 2 4 4 4
Please rate checkout staff on their customer service and safety  (up to 7)  4 6 6 4 7
Time for G33 items to be scanned (including payment)  (up to 3)  3 3 3 3 3
 Was the till receipt free of mistakes?  (up to 2)  2 0 2 2 2
Feedback - please provide any further details/feedback on the tills and checkout: There were no staff members managing the checkout queues. It was actually another customer who saw me looking around nearby who pointed me to a till that was empty. Just then another customer rushed across in front of me and put her shopping down at that till, so I stood behind the green marker line at the end of that aisle and waited. I was unclear as to when to approach the till. The customer in front had finished paying and was at the far end of the till and I didn’t know if I should start loading my shopping on or not. There was no indication from the checkout operator so I slowly approached and started to put a few items on the belt, still feeling unsure. Supervisor was calling forward customers from the queue as each till became available. Checkout operator Lucy was friendly and polite. The positioning at the till was a little cramped due to the covid dividers between the tills but I accept it was a necessary arrangment. I had to stand right at the end of the checkout and the Checkout operator didnt push the goods down far enough for me to retrieve them easily so i had to stretch across the checkout to do so. Think they should be asked to push the goods right down to the end of the checkout as thats where customers now have to stand. Bags were offered but I had my own. Checkout offering upto £45 contactless payment instead of the usual £30 There were no queues at the self service tills and I only saw two customers use them, so I can’t comment on how they are managed at busy times. The screens at the checkouts were huge and it was very easy to keep a safe distance during the packing process. The staff member serving me was wearing gloves and used a spray cleaner to wipe the area down before she started scanning. She also slowed down a couple of times to allow me to pack at my own pace and we had a pleasant conversation as she did so. The till operator was not particularly friendly and did not ask me if I had a clubcard, she did ask whether I would need any bags There were six self service tills (where you could use the self-scanning service or simply scan yourself at the checkout and go) but the middle two checkouts were closed for social distancing. From the main checkouts three out of the six available tills were open to maintain social distancing plus one kiosk for up to ten items. After a short queue of five minutes I was directed to the till A lovely smiling staff member called Alfie served me. They were very polite, asked if I had a mywaitrose card and asked if I wanted a receipt. The transaction was processed quickly and efficiently.
Availability score (20) 1 5 11 14 18
 Of the 33 items on your shopping list how many were:           
Available (up to 20) 23 25 30 29 32
Out of stock (-2 per item) 9 7 4 2 1
Not stocked (-1 per item) 1 1 1 2 0
Availability % 71.9 78.1 87.5 93.5 97.0
Please note down the items on your shopping list that were out of stock (please highlight the products that have managed to get a satisfactory substitutions) Terry’s dark chocolate orange (substituted with after eight mints pouch) ,Kellogg’s milk chocolate special k bars (substituted with own brand chocolate orange cereal bars), own label chosen by kids lasagne, own brand 4 minted lamb kebabs, 200g Heinz no added sugar spaghetti hoops,Own brand citrus orange washing up liquid, Own label Neapolitan soft scoop ice cream, Hovis wholemeal bread, 800g Philadelphia cream cheese, 340g Morrisons Soured Cream 300ml - no substitution. Glade Shake n Vac 500g - No substitution. Morrisons Self raising Flour 1.5KG - No substitution. Silver spoon Caster Sugar 500g - No substitution. Morrisons Alaskan Salmon Fillets 4pk- no substitution.
Sprite no sugar 8 x 330ml - no substitution.
Gordons Special Dry Gin 700ml- no substitution.
Rhubarb and cauliflower were completely out of stock. I got a single mango instead of the 2 pack and Hovis thick sliced instead of medium. Kiwi, strawberry and lime fruit platter. Tesco pineapple paradise smoothie The Aspalls White Wine Vinegar was out of stock but I managed to substitute this with own-label white wine vinegar
Please note down the items on your shopping list that were not stocked (please highlight the products that have managed to get a satisfactory substitutions)  Aunt Bessies 12 sage and onion stuffing balls Castello Extra Creamy Brie 200g-no substitution Holy Moly guacamole. There was one pot of own label on the shelf but it had a short date, so I didn’t get it. Nuii cookies and mint ice cream. Kenco instant caramel latte N/A
Please give any other details or info about your shopping trip, good or bad The store layout is very logical and I found it easy to find the items on my list that we’re available. However, it was disappointing that despite hearing pre-recorded announcements in-store reminding people to socially distance, nobody appeared to be taking any notice whatsoever. Some aisles were packed with customers stopping in the middle with their trolleys next to others making it impossible to pass. I saw countless people ignore the one way system markings on the floor and the no entry signs at the end of the aisles. Kids were running around almost bumping into others and it felt like a busy shopping day before lockdown, not during! It did not feel like a particularly safe shopping environment once inside the store. Whilst doing my shopping I heard staff on the Deli counter asking customers to move back behind the yellow floor markings for covid reasons. The store had the following services offered:- - Customer service desk - manned by 1 person - Toilets - didnt use them so cannot offer comment - Lotto/Paypoint - Tobacco - Cash machines - Meat & fish counter - Deli/cheese counter - In-store bakery - Hot food counter - In-store café - It was closed due to covid - Coffee machine - Amazon collection point outside store There was signage for Sainsburys click and collect but there was also an Argos in store, which offered the same, which would be useful for customers to be able to combine both in one trip. The store isn’t large but it stocks a wide range of attractive goods and still manages to feel spacious and uncluttered.  Although at the time of the shop, some of the grocery areas were low in stock, I browsed the clothing and homeware areas and was surprised to see a solid collection of good quality merchandise that was attractively displayed.  The store had seasonal offers including BBQ and picnicware, a good sized grab and go selection at the entrance to the store aswell as a kiosk/lottery and the aforementioned Argos.  There was a closed Deli, pizza and bakery section but the range on the shelves was perfectly adequate to ensure most shoppers would be able to find suitable good to buy. The shop was pleasant, however staff could have done more to enforce one way systems and social distancing between customers With Waitrose you get a complimentary newspaper if you spend over £10.
TOTAL SCORE (100) 54 64 66 79 90