Waitrose plants (2)

Source: Mystery shopper

Waitrose snagged a win this week thanks to its strong availability and “attractive” displays. Its Newton Mearns branch in Glasgow racked up 85 points as our mystery shopper picked up all of the stocked items on her list (though three were not stocked).

Our shopper praised the plant and gardening-themed displays outside the store, and the Father’s Day section inside.

The fruit & veg segment was “well stocked” and the cheese, meat and bakery sections were attractive. Our shopper’s main criticism was that the frozen aisle was located at the front of store, meaning frozen items could start to defrost during the shopping trip.

Staff were described as neatly dressed, friendly and helpful. All in all, our shopper had a quick and pleasant shopping experience, with the branch offering “a better selection” than she expected.

Asda and Tesco came joint second with 73 points each. The former’s branch in Woking was described as “clean, bright and spacious” by our shopper, who was impressed by the wide variety of products available. The store was also praised for its counters, including the fresh pizzas and halal sections. However, the food-to-go section was “small and mediocre”.

There also weren’t many staff members on the shop floor on Sunday. But those present were “smartly presented” and went out of their way to give customers access to the shelves. The checkout area was well-managed, and the cashier was smiley and polite.

Our shopper went home with only 28 items as the Doritos and eggs were out of stock, while three items were not stocked.

Tesco’s Swansea branch fared better on the availability front, as our shopper managed to take home 30 items. The staff were all “great” and very helpful when assisting her with stock requests, while the staff member at the till was a “delight”.

On the flip side, our shopper was confused by the hot deli section being closed, despite signage indicating it should be open. She was told the hot food had been moved to the ‘to go food’ aisle. The butcher and cheese and deli sections were similarly closed. Our shopper was also disappointed with the amount of litter in the car park and entrance area.

Lagging behind was Morrisons in Lincoln, which scored only 55 points as our shopper was “disappointed with the store standards overall”. She had visited this branch before for The Grocer and felt standards had declined, with poor availability in the fruit & veg section, as well as in the bakery aisle. A recent leakage in the freezer aisle had left the floor looking dirty.

The food-to-go counters were the main highlight of the store, with a broad range. The salad and sandwich bar, along with the cheese and deli section, bakery, and rotisserie chicken area were all well-stocked, and the fishmonger and butcher areas were “impressive”.

Staff were all helpful when asked about availability or for directions, but our shopper left without four items on her list.

Sainsbury’s in Sittingbourne was last this week with only 48 points. Our shopper was “disappointed” by the number of products that were out of stock and went home without five items, despite helpful staff.

The layout was well signposted and “relatively clear and intuitive”. However, there was a spillage by the chilled section.

The car park was not free, though the cost was reimbursed once customers spent over £5 in the store.