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Store Wars: Boots and Superdrug

Our new weekly series will review two high street competitors and see what each is offering their customers, and we want your input too

Each week we will be looking at two shops competing in the same sector (on the high street or online) and review what they are offering customers – from how helpful the staff are, to the best bargains currently on offer.

Our review will be based on a visit to stores on the same high street or in the same shopping centre (not just in London, we promise), so it will be just a snapshot of how the retailer is performing in a particular place.

In order to get a better idea of which retailers are delivering and which are falling short we would like you to tell us about your experiences in your local branches of the same shops.

Some weeks, both stores we visit may do a good job, other weeks there will be one that stands out as being much better or worse. Your reviews will help us discover if this is a national trend or just a problem with the particular branch we visited.

Next week, we plan to review the outdoors stores Blacks and Cotswold, but after that we are going to go to the stores you choose. Please tell us which ones you would like us to review next (they can be internet retailers as well as ones with a high street presence). And if you’re very keen, there may soon be the chance to write the reviews yourself …


The visit 1 September, 11.45am, Wimbledon, south London.

What they sell Beauty, pharmaceutical and health products, plus photo processing.

First impressions Great location – it’s the first shop you see as you enter a busy shopping centre – but I was disappointed the windows were cluttered with promotional material, hiding the store interior. A more open-plan approach would improve the look. How many posters does it take to promote 3-for-2 offers? Not eight that’s for sure – talk about ramming the point home! The store seemed busy, I did a quick head count of around 40 customers in-store.

What were the staff like? Smartly dressed, however I was surprised there was nobody “walking the floor” to assist customers. Instead, all were behind cash tills apart from one who was putting out stock. The only person who came to my aid was the security guard who had seen me twice and politely asked if I needed assistance, and fair play to him he helped me search for the product.

Best bargain Their Baby Event where you can mix and match baby products and buy 3 for 2.

What does it charge? Gillette Pro Glide shaving gel (200ml) £1.99 and E45 skin cream (350ml) £7.05.

Where can I pay? Four main tills, three self-checkouts and medicine and beauty tills. There was little queuing at the main tills with customers being served within a minute.

What makes them stand out from the crowd Their instant and digital photo kiosks, as well as a huge range of Boots own items including sun care range Soltan.

Is loyalty rewarded? The Boots Advantage card offers four points for every £1 spent, with 100 points giving you a pound to spend – effectively a 4% cash back, the clear winner in this category.

Lasting impressions The store looked tired, cluttered and a little drab; however it was full to the brim with products. What it lacks in décor it makes up for in range. Stock was good with only the odd product missing.

Overall rating 7.5/10


The visit 1 September, 12.15pm, Wimbledon, south London.

What they sell Beauty, pharmaceutical and health products.

First impressions Also in a shopping centre, it gives a welcoming feel with a sense of openness allowing you to see the whole store prior to entering. It has recently been renovated and is well designed, feeling spacious and yet packed full of items.

It is logically laid out, clearly highlighting the various sections and locating specific items took seconds rather than minutes. The flooring was dark wood contrasting nicely with the rest of the light decor, giving a fresh and modern vibe throughout. There were about 30 people in the store.

What were the staff like? Wearing trendy, modern looking uniforms, I liked the fact they had someone specifically in the middle of the store to answer customer’s queries, but despite putting on my best “I am confused” face they failed to come to my rescue. On a second visit an assistant did ask if I needed any help.

Best bargain Herbal Essences shampoo (400ml) was £1.59 (normally £3.25) and they had plenty of stock.

What does it charge? Gillette Proglide gel (200ml) £1.95 and E45 skin cream (350g) for £7.04, but it was offering 3 for 2 on the E45 range.

Where can I pay? Five standard tills with a typical snake-like queuing system and others for pharmaceuticals and fragrances, all easy to see. Customers were being served in a matter of seconds.

Is loyalty rewarded? Yes, with the Beauty Card. I like the fact it has a mirror on it, so is slightly more useful than the usual cards that clutter up wallets and purses. You get one point for every pound spent and bonus points for certain products helps to bolster the paltry 1% cashback.

Lasting impressions Because of the layout a more enjoyable shopping experience, feeling less cluttered and a pleasure to walk around, but I get the impression it has less variety of stock than Boots.

Overall rating 7/10

Marc’s view As these stores are close to one another on my local high street ,I would visit both prior to purchasing as each regularly have 3 for 2 or half-price offers on different products.

Of course supermarkets now sell most of the items these stores do, which is why I think Boots pips it with its relatively generous Advantage Card alongside their well respected and cheap own-brand products.

How do your local Boots and Superdrug fare? Are the staff helpful and friendly? What do you think is their best current offer? © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds