Study: Men feel safer overall than women about returning to stores

Marianne Wilson
man shopping

Consumers feel the safest shopping in grocery stores and drug stores — but some more than others.

As stores begin to reopen, First Insight asked U.S. consumers which store formats they felt safe in while shopping. Grocery stores topped the list, at 54%, followed by drug store chains, 50%; big-box retailers, 45%; small businesses, 43%; warehouse clubs, 43%; and department stores, 37%.

The results, however, differed by gender, with men generally feeing shopping in retail formats of all types than women.  For example, 58% of men generally feel safe shopping at a grocery store compared to 49% of women. Similarly, 49% of men surveyed feel safe shopping at big-box retailers, versus 43% of women, the smallest percentage difference. More men (47%) also feel safer than women (39%) shopping at local small businesses. 

The First Insight survey also found that 80% of respondents prefer to use their own face masks and 70% prefer to use their own gloves rather than masks or gloves provided by the retailer when shopping in-store.

“As retailers and brands grapple with big questions related to reopening stores, it’s clear from our findings that consumers have varying degrees of comfort within different store environments and formats,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, the world’s leading customer-driven digital product testing solution for brands and retailers. “As retail visits expand past essential retail like grocery and drug stores, other retailers, and malls in particular, need to be thinking of ways to inspire a sense of safety for consumers, and it will need to go beyond offering gloves and masks at the door. It’s also likely that retailers will see more men in-store than women, and they should consider adjusting inventory to target these shoppers.”

Additional survey findings are below.
•    Worry about COVID-19 is subsiding slightly with a 6% decrease for the first time since February, with 82% of respondents being worried on April 20th, versus 87% on April 3, 2020.

•    The impact of the virus on consumer purchase decisions also ticked down slightly, with 80% of respondents saying it has impacted their purchase decisions somewhat or significantly versus 89% at the time of the last survey.

•    The percent of consumers cutting back on spending due to Coronavirus has leveled out, with 62% of respondents reporting cutbacks in spending on both April 3 and April 20.

The new findings are part of First Insight’s ongoing series of consumer sentiment studies entitled, “The Impact of Coronavirus on Consumer Purchase Decisions and Behaviors.” Now publishing the fourth study in the series, the company has been tracking consumer data since February 28, 2020, fielding additional studies on March 17, April 3, and April 20, 2020. Each survey sample is balanced by gender, geography and generation. 

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