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ASDA, THE ONLY TRUE ONE STOP SHOP?
Vast Range of Products . Value For Money . Some Stunning (Non - Food) Bargains . George Clothes . Fewer "Trick" Offers .
Dodgy Trolleys . Huge Check Out Queues .
Value for money
Layout & presentation
Selection & range
Waiting / queues
City / Branch addressBRIGHTON / UK WIDE
Frequency of visitWeekly
AvailabilityGoods are nearly always in stock
In store customer serviceGood
Freshness of goodsGood
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WHO ARE THEY?
In the simplest of terms, ASDA is a nationwide "superstore" chain. My definition of the word "superstore" is as primarily a grocery store, with ancillary departments - clothes, electricals etc, rather like those in a department store. To fully qualify as a superstore in 2006, they will also have to retail petrol. In short a one stop shop if you like.
ASDA - Associated Northern Dairies, a good old homespun north of England company yes? Well once upon a time, maybe. Now for some years part of the gigantic American Wal-Mart chain which, in the US at least, exercises colossal buying power and is able to control many sectors of the economy.
As a matter of interest, in 1999 Wal-Mart paid £6.7 billion for Asda, at that time creating the world's largest retailer. In total the Wal-mart group has over 4,300 stores worldwide.
Whilst ASDA in this country is not THAT powerful, due to well established, larger, competition from Tesco, and to a lesser extent Sainsburys and Morrisons, it is still a big brand on the UK supermarket scene.
In terms of grocery sales it is the UK's second largest retailer, following Tesco, with Sainsburys in third place.
HOW MANY BRANCHES?
ASDA have 293 stores in the UK and employ over 117,000 people.
HOW MANY VISITED?
Mr and Mrs RICHADA have a rather unusual penchant for visiting superstores, this probably has more to do with Mrs R!
Our local ASDA superstore is in fact immediately opposite the company where I work, it is less than ten minutes away from our home in the car and is therefore our logical main weekly grocery shopping place. This was built on what used to be a 1950's industrial estate and is on the very northern outskirts of the town at Hollingbury.
However, Brighton actually has two ASDA superstores, the second being located at Brighton Marina. This was initially built as a Gateway supermarket and proved extremely under-used. ASDA took it over in the 1990's and have since re-vamped the store. This was indeed a wise acquisition on ASDA's part coinciding, as it did, with the regeneration of the whole Marina complex.
Other ASDA stores in the area which we visit on a regular basis include Eastbourne, Crawley and the huge Havant Hypermarket.
Outside of our own area during our travels we have visited the flagship store at Patchway - Bristol, which is actually branded ASDA Wal-Mart (the only one that I have seen thus labelled), this store has a whapping 93,000sq ft shopping area. Others visited include the Stockport, Queensferry (Chester), Ashton Under Lyne, Durham, Rochdale and the High Wycombe store.
WHAT DO THEY SELL? 9.5 / 10
This may seem an obvious question, but not all superstores sell such a wide range of items. In short, ASDA sells just about everything for the home, to put on your feet and back, to entertain you with and of course to feed and wash you. Increasingly in our ASDA store there seems to be an increasingly large range of electrical products, gardening, DIY and motorists requirements appearing on the shelves.
This is not necessarily a good thing, last week Mrs R. was held up for around fifteen minutes at the check-out by the lady in front asking the till assistant if she had purchased the correct engine oil for her car! Well:
a) she didn't know what her car was and b) even if she had have known, would she seriously have expected a till assistant in ASDA to know which grade of engine oil to put in it.
Needless to say the manager summoned to help could be of no more assistance and assured the woman that "yes that should be alright".
Madam, Halfords is the place for engine oil, you will find all the assistance needed there, ASDA's could terminally damage your car!
On the other hand, through the George clothing department, I now have it on very good advice that ASDA are the first (supermarket) onto the market with wedding dresses - this is going to cause some of the dreadfully expensive wedding outfitters a very real head ache once it catches on!
In many respects it might be easier to list what they do not sell!
We have noticed that ASDA tend to market more products on a seasonal basis than their rivals, a whole "block" of the Hollingbury store changes according to season, out goes Christmas, in comes the patio sets ready for the summer sun.
Unlike Tesco, ASDA sells an increasingly wide range of watches and jewellery to suit most pockets, from the sparkly teenage range to quite sophisticated gold and diamond items. Again, personally I would rather go to a specialist shop for such things,
Pictures of Asda (Shop)
The Brighton Marina ASDA
but to each his own.
On the flipside of that, in comparison with Tesco or Sainsburys the range of alcohols, beers and spirits stocked by ASDA is decidedly limited.
ASDA do, as compensation however, sell the best, cheapest too, range of beautiful cut flowers - far better than any of the other supermarkets with the exception possibly of Marks and Spencer who naturally charge far more for their blooms.
In our local store useful departments such as an optician, pharmacy and a separate Photographic shop have appeared over the last couple of years. So too have Indian, Chinese and Rotisserie take aways.
I am unable to comment on the Indian, regrettably the food does not agree with me, but as far as the Chinese and Rotisserie take aways are concerned, they would not be my first choice for a quick meal.
Both Brighton ASDA's have however lost their very popular cafes, it would seem that these were not making as much money as floor sales space.
Along with all of the other main grocery chains ASDA is increasingly marketing its various financial services through in-store leafleting. These services are primarily internet based and cover a wide ranging scope from loans through to pet insurance.
That however is a different review for a different day. Here primarily we are concerned with the stores themselves and the goods that you can purchase from those stores.
QUALITY & FRESHNESS OF PRODUCE 7 / 10
My main priority when food shopping is that the food is as fresh as possible and of good quality. In this area, at least in our local store, ASDA have really excelled here since the Wal-Mart take over. I used to moan a lot about not only the quality of the meat, fruit and vegetables, but also on many occasions was finding out of date produce on the shelves.
I hope that you, like me, ALWAYS point out past sell by date items to the staff!
Usually we now find that ASDA are more than competitive with both Tesco and Sainsburys on this score. Unlike the old days there is very little wastage of the food that we buy from ASDA. Apart from money the one thing that I hate wasting is food!
200% Money Back Guarantee: 10 / 10 !!!!!!
This is how ASDA primarily achieves the freshness and quality desired by its customers. On all ASDA own-brand produce, including (importantly) the fruit, vegetables and meat, ASDA will offer you double your money back on any items that are found to be in any way sub-standard.
Being on the doorstep, we have been known to take back rotten oranges and on one occasion an "Extra Special" free range corn fed chicken which, whilst two days within sell by date, was completely putrid in smell when un-wrapped. There is never any argument involved in taking these items back and the customer (me) always feel well compensated to walk out with a replacement item PLUS the cost of that item in cash!
AVAILABILITY OF STOCK ON SHELVES 8 / 10
This is a bit of an unfair one really as it is dependant on so many factors from the day of the week / time of day to the season of the year.
At the times we shop, usually a Tuesday in the late afternoon, generally the shelves are well stocked and we can pick up all of the items on our list. By comparison, this rarely seems to be the case in our local (and larger) Tesco Extra store.
My wife's one complaint is that ASDA never stock a wide enough range of fresh herbs, this is the one shopping item that sends us often to Tesco or Sainsburys who carry a bigger range.
OWN BRAND QUALITY? 6 / 10
At the risk of repeating myself, this is an area that has come on in leaps and bounds since the turn of the millennium. We do not tend to use own brand soaps, toiletries and washing powders, but any food items recently tried have been well up to scratch.
FAIR TRADE PRODUCE RANGE? 6 / 10
Whilst ASDA were by no means at the forefront of marketing Fair Trade products, Co-Op should be thanked for that, they are now carrying an ever increasing range of these products.
This is vitally important, if Fair Trade Products are to gain a large market share and therefore work best for the producers, they need to be as widely available as possible and offered in stores known for offering value for money.
ANY "LABELS"? 9 / 10
In the modern day and age in which we live "The Label" has become all important. Initially I had in mind the fantastically successful "George" clothing label when I introduced this heading, thinking slightly more deeply about it, you may also be aware that the supermarkets (in the narrower food retailing definition) have also started "Label branding" certain lines of products.
In ASDA's case the up-market, or premium, food "label" is "Extra Special". I have to say that the limited number of these items which we have tried have met with our unanimous approval (rotten corn fed chicken apart!). Particularly noteworthy have been the lasagne and pizzas, and I am no pizza lover!
The other food "label" that you will see in ASDA is "Good for you!" - a range of products supposedly healthier than their standard own-brand fare - usually containing lower salt and or fat content.
At the bottom end of the market - in pricing terms at least is the "Smart Price" label, this tends to be applied to the basic staple items of food.
HOW ABOUT THE TROLLEYS? 3 / 10
ASDA provide a limited range of trolleys, the standard "large" trolley being a standing joke with all ASDA customers. Not a single one of them would pass the most rudimentary of MOT tests, all have wonky wheels and are a nightmare to navigate around the store. Some are so heavy to push that you would think that they had square wheels.
We HATE ASDA trolleys!
That is why the infinitely preferable smaller "high level basket" trolleys are like gold-dust, fought over and queued up for in our local store. With shopping for just the two of us, the smaller trolley is an ideal size and saves all that back breaking bending at the check out.
Our local ASDA has a couple of rechargeable electric wheelchairs available for disabled customers, along with suitable trolleys to go in front of them.
THE CHECK OUT QUEUES! 1 /10
In a word: horrendous. You might just hit it lucky here! If you're REALLY lucky! Although ASDA promise to open all of the check outs at peak times unless you have a hand basket do not expect to get out of the shop in a hurry! On many occasions we have queued at around 6.00pm for longer than it took us to actually do our shopping.
We have learned and now beat the system by getting through the check out before 5.00pm when people generally leave work. Mrs R. shops while I work, I finish work and pick her and the shopping up at the check out - usually I arrive just in time to pay the bill!
Sundays are particularly gruesome when mother father and three screaming children always seem to descend on the store. Retail therapy? No, more my idea of hell!
THE CARRIER BAGS 3 / 10
Pretty awful! Shoddy quality, thin, flimsy and barely able to contain your shopping. This is a lousy ploy on ASDA's part as people take far more of them than they need due to their sheer fragility.
Supermarket carrier bags are BAD NEWS. They take years (if they ever do) to bio-degrade. Please use as few as you can, or better still, do as we do and take re-useable shopping bags which will last for years and cost you very little (99p in our case) in the first place. Regrettably ASDA have now discontinued selling these!
SHOP AMBIANCE: 4 / 10
In truth your average ASDA store has very little "ambiance" indeed. Due to the nationally piped ASDA radio and appalling "greeter" and staff announcements, my personal opinion of it is, that what ambience they do have is, really rather low-rent.
This tends to be reinforced by the pale green and white corporate colour scheme which also lends rather a "non-image" to the stores.
Our own two stores now have a rather odd dual character to them, the boggo basic, very brightly lit non-anbiance food side, and the increasingly sophisticated George clothing and jewellery sections.
In other parts of the country we have visited, we have even found ASDA branches which contain McDonalds franchises. This for me really plumbs the depths of supermarket taste. If and when that comes to our local store then I will stop using it!
THE STAFF 5 / 10
ASDA terms its' staff "colleagues". As with all of us in this human race, there are good, bad and indifferent alike amongst your average ASDA workforce.
Some people are just better suited I guess to this kind of work and are able to make the best of, what is, let's face it, a pretty dull job. These people are a pleasure to be around, are helpful and smiling. From my experience in our local store maybe 35% - 40% of the staff fall into this category.
The main problem here is that with low wages and a "non-image" brand, ASDA has to employ almost anyone who is prepared to work there. This means that on an average day you will come across 50% or more of the workforce who really would rather not be there. This is neither productive from the company's point of view, nor conducive to customer satisfaction and the overall experience of shopping there.
WHO ACTUALLY SHOPS THERE?
Oh yes, the bit you have really been waiting for! RICHADA's rating of his fellow shoppers! Well by and large ASDA shoppers are one of two types. Either they are shoppers on a tight budget looking for the best deals across their whole shop, or they are rather better off, but canny shoppers who see no reason to pay more than they need to for their weekly shop.
I have a slightly unusual way of judging a superstore on this point. I look around the car park to see what calibre of vehicle is parked there. In ASDA you see a lot of older cheaper cars (our ASDA is very convenient for Sussex University), you also see a surprising number of expensive, mostly German, cars, Mercedes, BMW's and Porsche's even.
What seems to be slightly absent here is the more middle of the range, middle classed cars, those I think you are more likely to find in Tesco or Sainsburys car park.
The people who drive the more upmarket cars to ASDA are the ones who recognise value for money - they drive low depreciating cars and know where to shop at the most advantageous price. They do not drive a "badge", they drive the car because they appreciate its quality more than the snob value attached to owning it.
SNOB RATING: 2 / 10
Due to the above two factors, ASDA is probably the least "snobby" of all the main players in this particular market. Was not sure here if to award 8 / 10 or 2 / 10, it depends on how YOU view snob value!
N.B. This rate does not count on the overall total!
VALUE FOR MONEY RATING: 9 / 10
Generally speaking you will not beat ASDA on price. All the other supermarkets boast about matching certain items at ASDA's price, none can offer you a whole weekly shop for less.
The only way that you will eat for less will be to shop in Lidl or possibly Aldi, neither of whom offer anywhere near the range of goods, nor I would suggest the quality. By the time that you have travelled around several shops to complete your weekly shop, any cost advantage gained by seeking even cheaper prices will have been lost.
INTERNET SHOP FROM YOUR PC and HOME DELIVERY: 3 / 10
In certain parts of the country ASDA will deliver to your door - free if over £75 worth of shopping is done. I have just checked on our own post code and according to their web site, ASDA do not currently deliver in the Brighton area.
To my knowledge, this does leave them out on a limb, all the other big "chain" grocery stores, except Morrisons (who do not feature whatsoever in this area), offer a home delivery service and internet shopping facility in the Brighton district.
MY ASDA ANECDOTE: (1 / 10)
Several years ago we suffered a heavy snow fall, the temperature was sub-zero and the roads were treacherously icy. I required a couple of grocery items and needed to put fuel into a colleague's company car. Being such an awful day, there were few people in the store and, fortunately, even fewer cars on the car park.
Driving onto the ASDA car park which slopes gently up hill was no problem at all, they had done a fine job of salting the road. The main road parts of the car park too had been efficiently salted. I collected my groceries and drove perfectly safely to the fuel station and re-fuelled my colleague's car.
On driving away from the fuel station, a very gentle, but curving descent, I realised that I was driving on sheet ice - a lady had slid into the wall on the exit from the car park. The exit from the car park was left entirely untreated.
Yes folks - once they've taken your money safely you can fend for yourselves!
I am not actually going to score this category as I approve of ASDA's approach of offering the best value and nothing back in the form of loyalty points. My wallet bulges with various store cards and I would far rather know that I am saving money on my weekly grocery bill.
If you wish to apply for such a thing ASDA do now offer their own credit card - this will give various "hand backs" just like any conventional card, but with an ASDA based flavour!
ASDA do offer a fuel loyalty card, as I do not use ASDA fuel, I have no information on this to share with you.
ASDA offer a fantastic range of both food and non-food products realistically priced for everyman. Sometimes, especially on non-food items, such as electrical goods or CD / DVD's you can even find a spectacular bargain.
The George clothing range is a clear market leader offering great value for money. My wife is particularly keen on this as they offer many "straight from the catwalk" designs.
ASDA is not the most up-market or exclusive retailer, but nor do they set out to be.