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Secret Shopper report: South Coast

Better Retailing Magazine’s secret shoppers are out and about looking for the best in independent health store retailing, marking out of 10 in five sections. Here, our shopper is looking for a remedy for migraine.

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: South Coast

First impressions

It’s tricky to park nearby, but I finally do so and make my way up to this quaint-looking health food shop. A beautiful Art Deco stained glass shop sign gives a notable first impression and I step inside. Indoors things are contrasting, but not by any means less impressive. The shop is modern, bright, light and welcoming. Although not necessarily a large space, they have made use of what they have. There are tall shelves and fridges around the perimeter, with a shelf containing further stock running through the centre, splitting the shop into two wide aisles. Everything from the floor to the ceiling is spick and span and seems to be presented with the customer in mind. I look forward to exploring what these shelves and fridges have to offer and receive some advice as to how to cure my nagging migraines.

Verdict: 10/10

Store layout

All is clean, clear and well set out. Shelves are stacked neatly and consecutively with promotional information directing the customer towards their latest and greatest specials and my eyes are drawn in various directions. This store sells everything from wellbeing products, healthy alternatives for most grocery items, cleaning necessities, cooking essentials, frozen goods and it has a refill station for cleaning products etc. A child lingers around one of the frozen sections eyeing up the array of dairy-free ice creams and sorbets, trying to coerce his parents into taking a selection home. They do look tantalising and I am thinking along the same lines myself...

Verdict: 10/10

Personal Attention

I approach the store owner who is entering back onto the shop floor from the storeroom. While she appears professionally attired in a smart uniform, I am taken aback when she dismisses me with a wave of her hand. The counter does have a queue of about five or six people, and she seems to be the only member of staff available, so heads to the service counter before I can even ask about how I can cure my migraines. She eventually turns back towards me, gesturing that I should join the queue. I’m not really compelled to stay after this interacton, but in the name of research I do as directed.

Verdict: 2/10

Check Out

The shop attendant tends to the line of customers in what can probably be described as a perfunctory manner. The clientele are all laden down however, carrying up to three bags each, so it is obviously a popular destination for groceries. When I get to the front of the till and explain my ailment, the assistant gestures to an array of supplements behind her, that are stacked amid natural hair dyes and beauty products, but shrugs when I ask for further information and guidance regarding my issue. It seems although this health food shop stocks supplements, the staff don’t promote this element of the business in the slightest. Although things were promising on arrival, this experience has spiralled into a bit of a disappointment. There is no time to reflect on this however, since I am quickly hurried off as the staff member gestures for me to move out of the way and beckons customers behind me to step forward and be served.

Verdict: 2/10

Overall impression

It was a busy Saturday morning when I visited the store, and perhaps it was a bad move to visit during what seemed to be their peak time. There was only one staff member available for a constant flow of customers. However I did find her dismissive and inept when it came to providing any advice. This store obviously attracts a loyal customer base however, so I can assume the quality of their products is worth the lack of enthusiasm demonstrated by this lone staff member. This looks to be a destination for your healthy grocery shopping and ethical household items, but not the place for anyone requiring nutritional or alternative therapy advice.

Verdict: 3/10

Total marks: 27/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...