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Secret Shopper Report: North West

Wide choice and clever staff

Our Secret Shoppers are scouring the highways and byways for the best of GB’s health food and natural lifestyle independents. Giving marks out of 10 in each of five sections, our shopper went to a city in the North West and discovered all that’s best in health store retailing.

The Better Retailing Awards are run in conjunction with the Health Food institute and reward excellence in independent health store retailing. The winner is selected from the stores visited by the Better Retailing secret shoppers throughout the year.

Store location: North West
Anti-inflammatory support

First Impressions

The store is situated on the corner of a busy main street in the city centre and is easy to spot as it’s quite prominent size-wise. It has an informative window display that gives a good overview of what can be found inside including health foods, supplements and a café located downstairs.

Verdict: 7/10

Store Layout

The store is bright, airy, spacious and each section is highlighted by signs above which makes it really easy to navigate. I’m impressed by the size of the store – it offers a huge range of products from a number of leading ranges. There are also several members of staff working across the store which is great to see. As I first enter the store, I come across the deli counter and the large food/groceries section which also offers fresh produce including organic fruit and vegetables. Some examples of the many ranges stocked in the supplements section include Nutri Advanced, Terranova, Natures Aid, Viridian, A.Vogel, Solgar and PharmaNord. The store also offers a good range of sports nutrition, natural bodycare and eco-household options.

Verdict: 8/10

Personal Attention

When I first enter the store, I’m immediately welcomed with a friendly hello and an offer to sample some protein bars and brownies. I like that I have time to browse around the store (as there’s quite a lot to look at!) and don’t feel rushed in any way. But the real purpose of my visit is to potentially pick up a supplement so I head for that area and begin browsing. After a minute or so, the store’s nutritionist asks if I would like any assistance. I mention I have a hip injury currently and I’m looking for supplement support that may help to reduce inflammation. I’m impressed with the detailed advice she provides – we talk through my vegetarian diet and whether I already take a vitamin D supplement (I do). She advises that taking a high dose flaxseed oil supplement could be beneficial as it will help to dampen down the inflammation. She also recommends purchasing a good quality multivitamin for extra support over this period. Further down the line and once my hip is on the mend, she also advises taking a turmeric supplement. The Natures Aid flaxseed oil supplement is reasonably priced but the multivitamin supplements are more expensive. The store’s nutritionist gives me two quality multivitamin options to choose from and I opt for the Terranova one as it’s slightly cheaper.

Verdict: 9/10

Check Out

The tills are located at the deli counter (the other end of the store from the supplements section) so I’m served by a different member of the store’s team. Check out is friendly and quick – before the store assistant puts through my purchases, she asks if I have everything I need. I don’t enquire about whether the store has a website as I was looking at it prior to my visit. If you live locally, items can be ordered in for collection.

Verdict: 7/10

Overall Impression

I’m really impressed with the store; if I lived locally I could see myself being a regular customer. Having the expert insight on hand from the store’s in-house nutritionist is a huge plus point – you can have a mini consultation for free to help with selecting the right supplement for you. It’s a thoroughly pleasant shopping experience and I don’t feel under any pressure to make a purchase at any point in my visit. I’ll definitely pop in again when I’m next in the area.

Verdict: 9/10

Total Marks 40/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...