Survey: Shoppers still headed to stores — but taking precautions

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A new survey found that many shoppers are once again wearing masks as a safety measure.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 concerns consumers, but not enough to keep them home.

That’s according to a new survey from shopping rewards app Shopkick which found that that six in 10 (61%) respondents are taking extra precautions when shopping in-store due to the rise of Delta.  Of those cautious respondents, most are once again masking up while shopping (82%), using disinfectants on hands and carts (79%), shopping at less busy times (66%), using debit/credit cards to avoid exchanging cash (63%), and utilizing self-checkout (59%).

A vast majority (85%) of respondents who are worried about shopping in-store are concerned that other shoppers are not taking the proper safety precautions. To feel safer, 70% of worried respondents expect retailers to enforce safety precautions. However, 59% of worried shoppers fear retailers will fall short of this expectation. 

Respondents hope to see retailers take proactive steps against the Delta variant such as disinfecting carts (83%), enforcing social distancing (65%), mandating masks (65%), limiting store capacity (42%), and putting a cap on the number of essential products each shopper can purchase (38%). 

Despite fears, shoppers are still headed in-store. Two-thirds of respondents (67%) report taking the same amount of trips to the store per week as they did the prior month, and 10% have found themselves going more often.

However, 55% of respondents report that the pandemic has changed the way they will shop forever. Post-pandemic, more than half of respondents expect to continue to stock up on essentials (57%), shop online more (56%), and make fewer, but bigger, shopping trips (53%). After the pandemic, fewer shoppers plan to prioritize availability over brand preference (37%) or utilize convenience options like BOPIS (14%). 

“Even with a surge in COVID cases and consumers wary of in-person shopping, they are still heading in-store,” said Dave Fisch, GM of Shopkick. “Retailers need to prioritize making the experience as enjoyable as possible, while doubling down their focus on safety. Shoppers will expect nothing less than stocked shelves, a demonstrable commitment to safety in your store, and a trained staff setting the example.” 

These results align with findings of a survey Shopkick released in July about changing consumer expectations for the in-store shopping experience as a result of COVID-19. Although two-thirds (67%) of respondents were vaccinated, a majority wanted in-store safety precautions to continue through the rest of the year, expecting retailers to offer disinfecting spray (83%), keep plexiglass barriers at checkout (66%), enforce social distancing measures (54%), and require employees (54%) to wear face coverings. 

Another 42% of respondents wanted shoppers to be required to wear face coverings, while three in 10 (29%) want to limit the number of shoppers in-store at once. Other brick-and-mortar stressors included shoppers not following safety guidelines (67%), potential exposure to COVID (60%), long lines (42%), mandatory mask mandates (39%), capacity restrictions (37%), and retailers not following safety guidelines (30%). 

To make the in-store shopping experience less stressful in the future, respondents wanted retailers to prioritize keeping products stocked (68%) and continue enforcing safety precautions (60%).