Big four supermarkets fall behind smaller rivals in Which? survey

The big four supermarkets – Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – have failed to impress in this year’s Which? supermarket survey.

The independent consumer body surveyed more than 12,000 of its members in October and November 2018 to find out about their online and in-store experiences while shopping with the nation’s favourite supermarkets.

In the study, Asda was ranked as the worst performer of the big four, finishing at the bottom of Which’s rankings for both online and in-store shopping.

The supermarket received a customer score (a combination of customer satisfaction and likelihood to recommend) of 65% for online shopping and 56% for in-store shopping.

Food quality seemed to be a big issue amongst Asda shoppers. The quality of both own-brand items and fresh products in-store was given only one and two-star ratings respectively by customers.

Asda’s online customers told Which? that it is unusual for them to receive a delivery without a substitution. More than half (55%) had experienced this with their last order. Parsley replacing basil, potato gratin instead of macaroni cheese and red wine vinegar replaced by a bottle of red wine were among the more bizarre substitutions reported in the survey.

The UK’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, came just above Iceland and Asda for in-store shopping, with a score of 59%. It was given only a two-star rating for value for money and some survey respondents voiced concerns that the store was becoming more expensive.

Tesco performed better for online shopping with a score of 71%. Shoppers praised its delivery drivers for being helpful and friendly – but suggested that the quality of produce could be improved.

Sainsbury’s had the edge over Tesco for its customer score for in-store shopping, with a score of 63%, but came just below Tesco in the rankings for online shopping, receiving a score of 69%. Sainsbury’s also failed to perform on value for money – customers gave it only two stars in this category for both in-store and online.

Morrisons came out on top among the big four, but below most of its smaller rivals, with a score of 64% for in-store shopping and 70% for online. It scored highly for queuing time in-store and for range of products but was let down by the quality of its own-label products, which were described as “tasteless” by one shopper, and received only a two-star rating.

Iceland performed badly when it came to in-store shopping, coming second from the bottom in the Which? survey, with a customer score of just 57%. However, its ranking was reversed for online shopping: the store was only narrowly beaten on customer score by two percentage points to the top of the table by Ocado, receiving a score of 79%.

While in-store customers rated Iceland poorly for quality of own-label produce, awarding it only two stars, it fared much better in this category with online shoppers, who gave it four stars. This suggests that online shoppers may be stocking up on products they know and like, unlike customers looking for a weekly shop in-store. Some shopped at Iceland for specific items – including one shopper who went there for ostrich meat and another only for scallops.

Waitrose topped the Which? table for in-store shopping, receiving five-star ratings for store appearance, queuing time, staff availability and range of products. In contrast to Aldi and Lidl, it did less well for value for money – only receiving a two-star rating. Ocado came out on top for online shopping, receiving five star ratings for delivery slot availability, range of products and drivers’ service.

German discounters Aldi and Lidl outperformed the big four with scores of 68% and 66% respectively, and both received five stars for value for money. However, they performed poorly when it came to store appearance, staff availability and range of products, receiving only one star in these categories.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said: “Our survey shows that while the big four are failing to consistently give customers the high-quality experience they deserve, both in-store and online, no supermarket is getting everything right.

“People today have more choice than ever on where to do their food shop and staying loyal to one supermarket has become a thing of the past. The big supermarkets really need to up their game if they’re going to keep their customers coming back.”

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