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28 Feb 2019

Convenience stores fail to impress customers, Which? reveals

Long queues, unhelpful staff and difficulty finding the products they want are leaving customers disappointed

The UK's convenience stores leave a lot to be desired. Five of the convenience stores in our latest survey received disappointing customer scores of less than 45% and McColl's is bottom of the table.

In October and November 2018, we surveyed 9,000 Which? members about the convenience stores they use. The results aren't great - we found that customers face long queues, unhelpful staff and difficulty finding the products they want.

We also surveyed our members to find their favourite supermarkets - find out which impressed in our supermarkets compared round-up.

Convenience stores 2019: the results

We asked Which? members to tell us about their experiences shopping in convenience stores, including the range of products in stock, the quality of produce on offer, and the appearance of the stores.

In the table below, we've included the customer scores for some of the big-name brands. Customer score combines customer satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the brand.

Convenience storeCustomer score
M&S Simply Food (1,378)68%
Little Waitrose (583)64%
Co-op Food (1,404)55%
Sainsbury's Local (1,336)51%
Tesco Express (1,381)48%
Premier (282)45%
Best-One (54)44%

We included 14 convenience stores in our survey. To find out how other convenience stores, such as Londis, Nisa and Spar, fared, head to our guide to the best and worst convenience stores.

The worst convenience stores of 2019

McColl's is at the bottom of our 2019 table, with a score of just 40%, with Best-One, Costcutter, One Stop and Premier not far behind.

McColl's, Costcutter and Londisall score just one star out of five for the quality of their own-label products, while four out of the five shops at the bottom of the table got a measly one star for quality of fresh produce - suggesting they are sacrificing quality for convenience.

The range of products was a problem for the majority of stores, too, but that's less surprising as the shops are smaller and have less room for stock. Four shops received one star for store appearance, and shoppers struggled to find products in plenty of shops, too.

M&S Simply Food and Little Waitrose impress

M&S Simply Food and Little Waitrose top the table for 2019. Both impress customers with the quality of own-label and fresh produce, and the wide choice of items. Customers like the in-store experience, including staff helpfulness, store appearance and the short length of queues.

In our supermarket survey, M&S and Waitrose customers weren't impressed with the value for money. But was it the same story for the smaller versions of these premium supermarkets? You'll need to head over the best and worst convenience stores to find out.