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We are fortunate to have a choice of four different supermarkets within a ten minute drive from where we live, yet we nearly always pick the largest - Asda Walmart Supercenter in Havant, Hampshire.
------------------------------- - About Asda Walmart - -------------------------------
Asda was originally formed by a group of Yorkshire farmers, and became part of the Walmart group in 1999. With over 122,000 employees, it has been voted a "Top 10" UK employer for several years running, and has also been awarded the Nestle Social Commitment Award in 2002. Asda Walmart has also just been announced as the UK's best value supermarket based upon an average weekly shop.
----------------------- - Store Location - -----------------------
The store is ideally located just off Junction 4 of the A3(M) between Havant and Waterlooville. As the site is situated outside a main town, traffic levels are normally very low. The exceptions to this are the evening rush hour and Saturdays, when the 'five exit' roundabout at the entrance to the store gets heavily congested. Parking is never a problem as the store has its own huge car park which never gets full - even on the busiest of shopping days such as Christmas Eve. There is a bus stop on the main road outside the store, with regular services to Havant, Portsmouth and Waterlooville. The store also runs a regular free bus service to and from local towns.
--------------------- - Store Layout - ---------------------
The first thing you will notice as you walk into the superstore is the size. Rectangular in shape, it has an entrance / exit at both ends. Walking through the main entrance, you have the Cafe and washrooms on your left. To the right, you have a concessions stand where you can purchase newspapers, cigarettes, lottery tickets and stamps. You can also buy a range of filled rolls, soft drinks and snack foods from here. As you walk through the food section, the layout is very similar to other supermarkets, with one noticeable difference... the aisles seem much wider and less congested.
The store has several zones carrying different products and services. The main grocery area covers much of the central floor space area, and stocks fresh, frozen and tinned items. To the rear of the store, you'll find a bakery, a meat counter and a fresh fish counter. You'll also find a pizza counter where you can get pizza's created to your own specification, and a Chinese and Indian takeaway counter. The takeaways are served cold in foil or oven ready dishes, which only require a short time in an oven when you want to eat them. These represent fantastic value for money when compared to traditional takeaways, for example you can get four complete meals for around £10 !
You will also find the alcohol section, which carries an impressive selection of wines, beers and spirits from all over the world.
Walking further around the store, you encounter the Audio Visual department. Asda Walmart carries a very well stocked
Pictures of Asda (Shop)
selection of DVD's, CD's and computer software at very competitive prices. As well as this, they also sell a range of televisions, DVD and CD players and Freeview boxes.
Next to the Audio Visual section, you will find the homeware department. Here, you can buy a whole load of items for the home, from cutlery and cushions to fridges and freezers - again at very competitive prices.
About 20% of the store houses a George Clothing department. They sell very good quality clothes for men, women and children at prices you won't believe. The stock and styles change frequently, and always look fashionable. Nearly all the clothes are of the George brand, but few display external logos displaying the fact. Typical examples of prices are men's leather shoes for around £20, and jeans from just £3 ! Children's clothes in particular are very good value, and as young children grow so quickly it could save you a small fortune !
There is a section between the George department and the food court that stocks stationary, books and most major title magazines. There is a very good variety of cards for all occasions along with wrapping paper and celebratory items.
Just next to this is a toy section which carries a range of toys and games for children of all ages, and the next aisle stocks a range of car accessories from oil and antifreeze to air fresheners.
Working back towards the front of the store is the toiletries and cosmetic section. With products for both men and women, this is a very compact area with fairly good prices.
Finally, at the front of the store are the cash tills. These run virtually the length of the building. I tried to count how many tills there were, but lost count twice !! At each end, there are tills for "10 Items or Less", which move quite a bit faster.
--------------- - Services - ---------------
There are four A.T.M.'s located on the front wall - Lloyds, Natwest, Abbey and a Nationwide Link machine. Although not maintained by Asda, any problems with them would reflect badly on the store. Fortunately the machines are fully operational most of the time, and are kept clean. In the unlikely event that the machines do fail, the store offers a cashback facility at the tills.
- Petrol Station
The petrol station is located on the exit road from the store. There are six pumps on three islands, but this is different from most other petrol stations. Two of the pumps are self service, where you insert a credit or debit card and then fill up. Your spend is debited straight from your card. The other four pumps require that you fill up, then drive off about fifteen yards to a pay booth, where you can pay by cash, cheque or cards. This is a very efficient operation, which rarely causes queues to form. The only downside is that, despite the self service lanes being open twenty four hours, the booths are not. A car wash and air pump are also available.
The café serves hot and cold food throughout the day, at very reasonable prices. A two course lunch will set you back around £3.50, whilst a jacket potato with a topping costs between £1.60 - £2.20.
- Toilets / Baby Changing facilities
There are several washroom and toilet facilities throughout the store. All are kept clean, with soap dispensers well stocked. The facilities are checked and cleaned on a regular basis.
A fairly recent addition to the superstore is an Opticians service. It seems quite unusual that you can now get an eye test, and prescription glasses or contact lenses in the same place as you get your weekly shopping, but it's true. You can normally walk in and get an appointment straight away, and both the sight tests and glasses or contacts are priced very competitively against high street opticians.
- Photograph Developing
There is a service desk that can develop both standard and digital prints from your camera. Done over 1 hour or 2 days, they offer a variety of different sizes and developing options.
------------- - Service - -------------
As you enter the store, your first contact with a member of staff will probably be the infamous "Asda Greeter". These staff serve several purposes - primarily to greet shoppers with a smile. The Greeters also notify customers over the tannoy of announcements and special offers, and check shopping should a security alarm go off as you leave. Walking around the store, you can normally find the products you are looking for. In the event that you cannot find an item, you can usually find someone on the shopfloor to ask. Whatever they are doing, they always stop and take you directly to the item with a smile. In some sections, you are served by someone behind a counter, for example in the Audio Visual department or the "takeaways". Again, the staff here are always happy to help and serve you with a smile. If you ask a question to which they do not know the answer, they will go out of their way to find the answer for you. The service on the cash tills is equally impressive. The staff there are always pleasant and very helpful. You are normally asked if your require assistance in packing too, which would benefit some people. An example of the kind of service you can expect was when I bought a punnet of strawberries recently. When the lady on the till picked it up, she commented that it felt a bit light, despite the punnet appearing to have the same quantity compared to the others on display. She called over and "Asda Ace" who confirmed that they were slightly underweight, and promptly knocked £1.00 off the price ! One of the main complaints that supermarkets normally face is the lack of tills actually open. Asda have tackled this head on now, and guarantee that all of their tills will be open between 10am and 6pm on a Saturday, and from 10am to 4pm on a Sunday. Visiting the store today, I have also noticed that, on larger items such as televisions, they can now deliver to your home (at an additional cost). For a further charge, they can also set up the equipment for you.
------------------------ - Special Events - ------------------------
The store hold regular special events. Some of these are commercially motivated or sponsored, such as taste tests or special promotions. However, some events are purely for the benefit of the customer and the local community. A recent example was when they had a member of staff dress up as Barbie and read stories to a crowd of young children. They also hold a free firework display in the car park each year to celebrate Guy Fawkes.
There is very little to fault at the store. The shelves are normally well stocked, the staff are polite and friendly and the store is always kept clean. One concern that I have is I sometimes shop there late at night, due to my shift work. On certain occasions there have been only two or three tills open, despite around five or six people in each queue. I realize, however that it must be difficult to rosta staff to be available at such times. My biggest gripe is actually not in the store itself, but in the car park. Despite having such a large car park, with spaces always available, there are constantly people abusing the spaces reserved for disabled drivers and parents with young children, or parking in the "pick up points". I am not disabled, and do not have any young children, yet have never been tempted to park in either of these spaces. On one occasion after buying a large item, we were unable to stop at the pick up point as inconsiderate people had parked there. Some leave their partner in the car whilst they shop, whilst other cars are unattended for up to half an hour. Reading other reviews on this site, I know that other shoppers are just as aggravated by this, and I really think it's something that supermarkets need to enforce. I would suggest (and I will be forwarding this suggestion to Mike Stafford, manager of Asda Walmart, Havant) having a "Wall of Shame" displayed near the entrance of the store. This would work by photographing shoppers who abuse these spaces as they get out of their cars, and displaying the photos on the wall. Car details would be logged and, if they continue to abuse the parking spaces, could be published in a local newspaper. I can almost guarantee that this would solve the problem, and would also be great publicity for the store ! Finally, the store does not yet offer home delivery on internet shopping. I believe that this is due to be introduced in due course, but puts them at a slight disadvantage compared to other supermarket chains.
----------------- - Summary - -----------------
Now I realize that for many of you reading this, you're unlikely to travel all the way down to the South Coast of England just to visit this store. However, the purpose of this review is two-fold. Firstly, Asda strives to maintain the best possible service in all of it's stores, so hopefully this review should give you a good idea of what to expect should you visit one closer to you. Also, if there are readers within traveling distance to this store, I would strongly recommend that you pay them a visit. You'll be impressed at what a great shopping experience they can offer. It is also aimed at giving much earned praise to the staff at the store that make the weekly shop a much more enjoyable experience.
Good review. The problem with inconsiderate parkers is pretty much universal - some people are just too lazy to drive an extra 30 feet.
Not sure if parking restrictions are legally enforcable on private land - ASDA could perhaps introduce wheel clamping with a realistic release fee to be donated to charity - pretty sure that would deter the lazy SOBs.
big_dirty_em_n_that 19.01.2006 12:50
Thats asda price... Ching Ching!!! That is the right advert aint it?! There isnt an asda for about 25 miles from me i dont think, so im gonna come steel urs mwah ha ha ha ha!!! xox
KRISPY13 28.11.2005 16:51
I used to be an avid asda fan, until that is that they farted up the entrance to ours and the traffic snarls up at the quietest times of the day. So now we have absconded to Tesco extra.Good review but can it knock mine off the top....LOL....Krisp