As we move towards the final quarter of our 12-month mystery-shopping project, our research team made their first venture over the border to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The remaining three destinations are Manchester, Edinburgh and Newcastle.
In Cardiff, M&S proved itself to be outstanding across most of the categories. It achieved high scores for well stocked fruit and vegetables, the cleanliness of its store both inside and out and for the helpfulness of its staff, although it has to be said that all of the stores visited scored highly for helpfulness of their staff, which is a good reflection on Welsh hospitality.
The M&S store itself was located on a small out-of-town retail park and was a relatively new “Simply Food” store. It was inviting, clean and well laid out, with the fresh produce section being located at the entrance. M&S displayed a range of offers such as 2 for £5, 2 for £3 and Mix and Match, all clearly visible. The staff were available on the shop floor and happy to respond to our monthly question – about the availability of local produce after recent bad weather.
Tesco came a close second with its well stocked and attractive fruit and vegetable section, with £1 offers on display in both the fruit and vegetable areas. The store was a large Tesco “Extra” situated out of town and with a slightly different layout to the usual Tesco stores that most UK-based readers will be accustomed to. The entrance was situated in the middle of the store with the non-food products to the right hand side and food products to the left hand side.
The Lidl store also presented a well stocked fruit and vegetable section, with a high score for the range of produce available for shoppers. The store also scored highly for its cleanliness, both inside and out and its staff were very helpful, in fact the lady we spoke to about availability was more concerned that we had not found the produce that we wanted. Having no gondolas promoting fresh produce was the only factor in lowering their score.
Morrisons also scored highly for the cleanliness of its store, both inside and out. The fruit and vegetable sections were well stocked, although they scored less highly in their effectiveness of promotions in the fruit section.
Asda also presented a well stocked fruit and vegetable section with an excellent rating for its cleanliness both inside and outside of the store, however it scored less well for how its produce actually stood out within the store itself on the day we visited.
The Sainsbury’s store was again well stocked, however it scored less well for the attractiveness of display and effectiveness of promotions, although there were a few £1 offers available to shoppers.
Aldi scored highly for the helpfulness of staff, however their stock of fruit and vegetables, effectiveness of promotions and range of produce available was unimpressive, therefore resulting in a lower score.
The Waitrose store scored very low for the stock of its fruit and vegetable sections. There were lots of empty crates and the cleanliness in the store was also disappointing. However, they scored highly in its helpfulness of staff.
The helpfulness of staff at the Co-op store scored very highly, however it was located in a busy suburb and the cleanliness both inside and outside of the store was less good. They also scored low in its range, attractiveness and effectiveness of promotions in both the fruit and vegetable sections.
As part of the mystery shopping research, England Marketing asks a different question of the fresh produce aisle staff each month. The question this month was:
“Has the recent bad weather in the west of the country had an effect on the home-grown fresh produce?”
For the first time in our nine months of store visits, the staff approached across all nine of the supermarkets visited were very helpful, all willing to answer the question themselves or looking for a departmental manager to help us. Most had not suffered any effect of the recent weather problems in the west of the country, however Aldi had experienced some problems with the quality of its savoy cabbages and cauliflowers leading to these being withdrawn from sale for that week.
Cumulative Findings to Date
Vegetable and Fruit Displays
Morrisons retains the top position, scoring highest on the stock levels and attractiveness of display, with M&S coming a close second on its attractiveness of its produce. However Asda is scoring the highest on effectiveness of promotions with M&S again close behind. M&S and Waitrose share the top spot with regards to style of packaging.
The Range of Vegetable and Fruit Available
Morrisons is slightly ahead of Asda in terms of the range of produce available for its shoppers. Waitrose, Lidl and Tesco are also scoring well in terms of the broadness of their range.
Promotion of Fresh Produce
In terms of promotion of fresh produce, Morrisons continues to consistently lead in the rating for range of aisle ends. Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda all have a similar amount of gondolas within their stores. Unsurprisingly, Aldi and Lidl have the least amount of gondolas promoting fresh produce during our mystery shopping project as a whole.
Morrisons scores highest for its in-store fresh produce displays. The attractiveness of the displays certainly stood out in the Cardiff store, enabling Morrisons to score highly in this category.
Most of the stores scored highly for the cleanliness, both inside and out, however the Co-op and Aldi scored less highly in this category. These two stores were in locations that were more central, compared to the other high scoring stores which were in small out of town locations.
In the category of the helpfulness of staff all of the stores scored highly. With Tesco, Asda and Morrisons scoring a slightly less than the remaining stores, who all achieved a maximum score. The staff in all of the stores were happy to answer our question, if they were unable to answer they were keen to find someone who could help us, either someone else on the shop floor or by making a phone call to the head of fresh produce.