Waitrose Stamford Alcohol aisle shelf

Staff at Waitrose Stamford managed not to block aisles while restocking

Waitrose Stamford took our store of the week crown thanks to strong availability and excellent customer service.

The store notched up 79 points during our Saturday morning shop to hold off Morrisons in Diss by one mark. None of the 33 items were out of stock, though there were three not-stocked items due to the store’s relatively small size.

Our shopper found the store easy to navigate with well-stocked and appealing counters. Although a lot of restocking was taking place,  staff managed not to block aisles. Staff “were friendly and helpful when I asked about stock availability and went to the store room to bring more out”, our shopper said.

Morrisons would have bagged the victory if not for its availability score. While both Waitrose and Morrisons had 30 items on our list, Morrisons had two out-of-stocks and one not-stocked item. Our shopper also spotted other gaps.

In some areas, seasonal display banners were obstructing the standard signage. But the “helpful, smart and polite staff looked happy in their work”.

Sainsbury’s in Exeter took third place this week with 71 points. It was just one not-stocked item away from a full basket. Our shopper appreciated the Mother’s Day displays and enjoyed the free chocolate samples. Service was strong, thanks to staff “who seemed on top of their roles”.

The only issue our shopper encountered was a lack of open tills, which caused queuing into the aisles. Although more were opened, our shopper still had to queue for over six minutes.

Tesco Extra at the Swan Shopping Centre in Birmingham was the only store this week to stock a full basket.

Despite picking up the full 20 points for availability, the store still only managed a modest score of 63.

Our shopper was surprised to see the Mother’s Day flowers and displays in a dark corner behind an escalator, while the fruit & veg was also much further back than she would have expected. There was also a lot of restocking taking place, but it only caused obstructions in the fruit & veg section.

Staff were again friendly and helpful, including the checkout operator, who seemed to know many of the customers by name. Just as with Sainsbury’s, however, there was a big issue with till management. Not enough manned checkouts were open, leading to long queues blocking the aisles. Our shopper had to wait more than eight minutes to be served.

Size mattered at Iceland Aldershot, which scored 53 points. The less than 5,000 sq ft store was only able to provide our shopper with 21 items. Three were out of stock and another nine not sold. Although small, the store was clean, tidy and easy to navigate without obstruction. The shelves were generally stacked neatly.

Staff didn’t check the storeroom for missing items but were otherwise helpful and accompanied our shopper to help look for items. There were no queues at the tills and the checkout operator was friendly.

Bottom of the pile this week was Asda Altrincham with 49 points. Availability was poor with five out-of-stocks and two not-stocked lines.

A number of restocking trolleys had been left unattended. There were gaps on shelves and in some areas “stock looked untidy with items in the wrong place, torn packaging and empty boxes”. Staff were polite but not overly helpful and again there was a lack of manned checkouts in operation.