Waitrose delivered the best service for the second week running, with its branch in Towcester offering a full basket as well as boasting friendly and helpful staff.

Our shopper asked four assistants for help and each took her to the item she wanted and asked if she needed anything else. The only thing to let the store down was the checkout assistant, who failed to offer help with packing or a bag for life.

Staff at Asda in Tamworth were friendly and knowledgeable and the store had no items out of stock. However, difficulty in finding a member of staff to ask for assistance increased the time it took to complete the shop.

Our shopper at Sainsbury's in Bodmin left the store without four of the items on our list. The muffins were out-of-stock, the Heinz ketchup and Douwe Egberts coffee weren't stocked in the required sizes and new potatoes were not sold loose.

While staff on the shop floor were helpful and apologetic when the item requested was not stocked, there was a seven-minute checkout queue and the assistant failed to greet our shopper or offer help with packing.

Chicago Town pizza and Granny Smith apples were out-of-stock at the Morrisons in Crossmyloof, Glasgow.

Tesco in Diss was clean and tidy but staff lacked product knowledge, with one assistant sending our shopper to the ready meals aisle to look for Quorn mince. 

Winner:  Darren Leeder, department manager, Waitrose, Towcester

What does your role as department manager entail? There are two department managers and we act as duty managers. Today, for example, I am looking after the whole branch. Under my remit I look after the food service counters, all the checkout operations, welcome desks and personnel. We look at availability together as a branch.

How does head office support availability in your branch? The delivery times changed last week to meet the peaks in customer demand. Deliveries are more spread out, so availability is much stronger in the evening, which is where we had been slightly weaker.

Are there any changes planned for the store? We've been looking forward to getting the Quick Check scan-as-you-shop service and now it's coming in October. Customers love it because it's efficient they can select the product, scan and pack at the same time. It makes their shopping experience even better and they get their other halves and children involved. It also gives customers the opportunity to see where they are against their shopping budget.

Our shopper wasn't offered help with her packing. How would you talk to staff about that if you saw it happen? We've clearly let the person down on the day because that is part of customer service and I'm a little disappointed to hear that. In any feedback situation you let them know what they did well and ask if there's anything they feel they could have done differently. Normally they know what it was before you've said it and are really apologetic. We look after our partners and they look after us.

What products have sold well recently? Delia's recipes have been a great success. This week it's Vanilla Cream Terrine, which has gone very well. The recipe includes Fairtrade vanilla extract, and the uplift figures will be extraordinary as it's a product you'd normally sell only a few units of each week.

Why do you think the recipes have been so popular? Waitrose has a good cluster of customers who like to cook from scratch, which is why the recipes fit well with what Waitrose believes. Customers keep the recipe cards and use them again.

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