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Survey: Consumers expect health and safety to remain priority for retailers

Retailers hoping they could ease or eliminate in-store COVID-19 mitigation efforts in the event of widespread vaccinations may need to change plans.

Even if the majority of Americans are vaccinated, 79% of consumers said they expect retailers to continue enforcing health and safety restrictions, according to a survey by shopping rewards app ShopKick. The restrictions include requiring protective face coverings for shoppers and employees (89%), offering disinfectants for shoppers (86%), enforcing social distancing (80%), keeping plexiglass barriers at checkout (74%), and limiting the capacity of shoppers allowed inside (62%). 

According to 62% of respondents, enforcing these guidelines would influence where they choose to shop. 

Forty-four percent of the respondents said they are not planning to receive the vaccine. Millennials made up the largest segment of respondents not confident in the vaccine (35%) and not planning to get vaccinated (51%). Comparatively, America’s youngest and oldest consumers appeared the most confident in the vaccine, with 71% of Gen Zers and 75% of boomers saying they felt some level of confidence. 

Slightly less than half (48%) of respondents who had already received the vaccine reported feeling more comfortable shopping in-store now, and only18% said they would do so more frequently now. Similarly, of those who planned to get the vaccine, only 15% said they would shop in-store or take part in indoor activities more frequently after receiving the vaccination.

Nearly all of respondents who had already been vaccinated or planned to be vaccinated say they would continue to take personal safety precautions while shopping in-store (96% and 97%, respectively). Precautions include wearing protective face coverings (93%), using disinfectants (87%), shopping at less busy times (66%), using debit or credit cards to avoid exchanging cash (66%), using self-checkout (58%), or wearing protective gloves (21%).

Other insights from the survey are below:

•    Fifty-five percent of respondents said they were now using BOPIS to varying degrees, including sometimes (35%), often (11%), or very often (9%). 

•      Forty-nine percent of respondents said they were stocking up on essential items, down from 61% who reported stockpiling in December.
•    Forty-one percent of  essential items that were out-of-stock or low-in-stock one month ago are now in-stock, compared to December, when 36% of respondents said items were still out-of-stock and 23% had not noticed a difference. 

“With evolving news regarding the vaccine, it is becoming increasingly clear to the retail industry that a return to pre-COVID shopping behaviors and expectations is, at best, still far off,” said Dave Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “These latest findings prove that retailers must remain diligent and dedicated to maintaining health and safety standards in-store, and continue to find ways to meet shoppers in whatever ways make them feel most comfortable.”

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