Sheffield was the destination for the latest Mystery Shopper report, as we completed the first half of its 12-month long project.
Having come out on top for the last three months, Morrisons has been knocked off its perch by fellow Yorkshire-based chain Asda, which was a clear winner this month, scoring particularly highly across a wide range of the criteria, including being well stocked for both fruit and vegetables, its range of produce, promotions, appeal, displays, cleanliness of stores inside and out and the helpfulness of staff.
Morrisons and Lidl were both close behind Asda. Although Lidl achieved a low score for the stock levels of vegetables, style of packaging, signage appeal and how the fresh produce stands out, the store was able to secure joint second place by receiving higher results for the rest of the criteria.
As explained last month, the Co-op stores have generally been the smaller convenience stores, but the store visited in Sheffield was a superstore and therefore was able to promote itself off the bottom rung, scoring highly for the helpfulness of staff and cleanliness of the store inside and out. As suggested previously, once we have completed the 12-month programme, we will review how the Co-op data is presented as this ties in with their stated aim of being a convenience retailer and with planned improvements to the fresh produce range.
It was obvious at the Sheffield stores that gondolas were not widely used, especially for fresh produce, although Waitrose stood out as having the most.
As part of the Mystery Shopper research, our independent researcher England Marketing asks a different question of the fresh produce aisle staff each month. The question this month was:
“How much fresher is fresh produce when bought locally rather than imported?”
This was obviously a question the produce teams were comfortable with and all of the staff asked scored highly due to their helpfulness. Almost without fail, they suggested that local produce was fresher. Just the staff member at Lidl was not prepared to give an opinion, but directed us to telephone customer service.
Cumulative Findings to Date
After 6 sessions of mystery shopping, we have produced some cumulative results. These are best illustrated through the following series of charts which compare the cumulative scores by store.
Vegetable and Fruit Displays
Morrisons is so far the best, scoring highest on the range, stock levels and attractiveness of display although Asda achieves the highest score for effective promotions and the scores at Sheffield have enhanced Asda’s cumulative score.