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Secret Shopper Report: North East

Helpful and knowledgeable

Our Secret Shoppers are searching for the best of GB’s health food and natural lifestyle independent retailers. They give marks out of 10 in five categories, here assessing how this health store in North East England measures up.

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 East
Avoiding festive stomach upsets

First Impressions

The store is situated on the corner of a busy shopping street and is really easy to spot due to its contrasting black and orange colours. The side of the store offers a list of what it stocks. In addition, the window display is uncluttered so I can see right into the store which gives more initial insight into what can be found inside.

Verdict: 7/10

Store Layout

The store is bright, airy, clean and there’s plenty of room to move around. It’s a small store but it’s well stocked with options from a number of leading health supplement ranges. These include Natures Aid, Higher Nature, Quest, Bio-Health, BetterYou and Vitabiotics. It also offers a good selection of free-from foods, snacks, treats, sports nutrition, pet health plus beauty and bodycare options.

Verdict: 8/10

Personal Attention

As soon as I enter the store, a member of staff (wearing the store’s black uniformed clothing) says a friendly hello. It’s quickly followed up with an offer of help but I let her know I’m happy just having a general look around to begin with. After browsing for a few minutes, I pop over to the counter to ask whether she would recommend milk thistle for easing stomach upsets caused by the rich foods and drinks of the festive season. I also mention that I have IBS and I’d like to minimise the stomach cramps and associated issues if at all possible. She agrees that milk thistle would be beneficial and also shares with me that she too has IBS. She checks that I’m taking a daily probiotic as she finds this helpful – I reply that I am. We walk over to the area where the digestive supplements are located and she talks through the milk thistle options they have. The milk thistle supplement that I spotted during my initial browse is the one she recommends. I ask whether it is vegetarian as the packaging doesn’t make this clear. She opens the supplement box to check the information leaflet. Surprisingly, the leaflet doesn’t provide this information either. My friend who has come along with me does a quick google search to check the supplier’s website. This confirms that the supplement is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. I was also thinking of picking up a vitamin D oral spray and ask if it’s something she would recommend as I usually take a tablet. The store assistant is very helpful – she doesn’t just recommend it, she also provides insight on how best to take it and why it’s a good option.

Verdict: 9/10

Check Out

The check out experience is fast and friendly. I’m served by the same store assistant who asks if I would like my items putting in a free bag as it’s raining heavily outside. She also pops inside a copy of the free instore magazine (Your Healthy Living) plus a leaflet with contact details for the store and a second leaflet with information on the store’s sensitivity testing service that is regularly offered. I enquire whether the store offers an online shop option and she informs me that they are currently improving their website so they can provide this. The store assistant also mentions that customers can place orders over the telephone and this is a popular option.

Verdict: 8/10

Overall Impression

I’m pleasantly surprised to discover this independent health store in my local region. The staff members are friendly, knowledgeable and happy to help. I can definitely see myself returning when I’m next making a visit to the town where the store is based. I’d also happily recommend the store to family and friends.

Verdict: 8/10

Total Marks 40/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...