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Study: 61% Of Consumers Fear Getting Sick From Brick-and-Mortar Retail

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Global research firm Ipsos has launched its Consumer Health & Safety Index: an ongoing health and safety benchmarking study that evaluates how retailers across seven industries are operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ipsos conducted a two-pronged study, first surveying 2,000 Americans to understand which health and safety attributes are most vital to consumers in the current retail environment. This was followed by Ipsos Mystery Shoppers conducting in-store visits of more than 5,700 retailers across the U.S., learning which brands are successfully implementing health and safety measures, and which ones are not.

“The ability to deliver on health and safety efforts is now the most important aspect of the customer experience, and it will be for some time,” said Nick Mercurio, EVP and service line head of U.S. Channel Performance at Ipsos. “We found that 62 percent of shoppers would stop shopping at a retailer not taking health and safety seriously.”

According to Ipsos, American consumers consider certain health and safety practices more critical than others, which include consistent use of company-issued face coverings, managing the number of customers entering stores, 6-foot social distancing markers at checkout, employees visibly wiping down high-traffic areas and plexiglass dividers at checkout.

Below, some of the key findings are outlined from the survey.

  • Employees at 25 percent of the stores visited wore face coverings improperly or not at all inside the store.
  • Employees at 51 percent of stores visited were not wearing gloves inside the stores.
  • 77 percent of the stores visited did not provide any hand sanitizing or hand washing solution inside the entrance.
  • 82 percent of the stores visited did not provide any hand sanitizing or hand washing solution at checkout.
  • 64 percent of the stores visited had no staff actively cleaning interior high traffic areas, such as carts/baskets, counters, credit card readers, doors and demos.
  • 31 percent of the stores visited did not have plexiglass dividers at checkout.
  • 58 percent of the stores visited were not observed to be managing the number of customers entering stores.

However, aside from these numbers, a few brands stood out, offering superior performance implementing health and safety measures.

Whole Foods stood out as the top performing retailer in the study, demonstrating near universal compliance with associates wearing face coverings inside (98 percent), respecting 6-foot boundaries in customer interactions inside (91 percent), providing plexiglass barriers at checkout (95 percent) and offering contactless payment (87 percent) at the stores visited.

Costco emerged as the No. 2 retailer on the index. Employees at 83 percent of Costco stores visited wore face coverings properly outside the store, and employees at 95 percent of the stores visited wore face coverings properly inside the store. In addition, 94 percent of the stores visited had social distancing markers present inside the store.

The third of the top three performers was Trader Joe’s due to its consistency and attention to the most important health and safety factors to consumers, according to Ipsos. Consumer research confirmed that active monitoring of traffic and guest occupancy is something consumers value significantly, and Trader Joe’s far surpasses all the other grocery retailers in this area, with 94 percent of stores visited actively managing this process at the entrance.

To learn more about Ipsos’ study, click here.

Ipsos’ North American headquarters is based in New York City.

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