Pittsburgh, PA—As some states begin to allow stores to reopen following COVID-19 stay-home orders, consumers feel safest in grocery stores, but the least safe at shopping malls, a new survey by First Insight finds.
According to the survey conducted on April 20, 54% of consumers said they feel safe or very safe at grocery stores and 50% at drug store chains. A total of 45% feel safe or very safe at big box retailers, and 43% at local small businesses and warehouse clubs.
However, only 37% feel safe or very safe in department stores, and only 33% at shopping malls.
Those consumer feelings could play into how quickly retailers reopen brick-and-mortar stores as governors issue new orders that allow some businesses to resume in-store operations. In Texas, for example, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order last week that allowed retailers to open their stores as of Friday at 25% of listed capacity.
Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, notes that it’s clear from the survey results that consumers have “varying degrees of comfort” for different store environments and formats.
“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,” Petro said in prepared remarks.
With men reporting higher levels of comfort at various types of retailers, Petro suggests that retailers may see more men in stores than women, and they should consider adjusting inventory to target those consumers.
The First Insight survey found that men feel much safer overall than women when returning to stores. That was the case in every category of store in the survey, with 58% of men feeling safe or very safe in grocery stores, compared with only 49% of women.
And when considering shopping malls, 41% of men felt safe or very safe, compared with 24% of women.
While some retailers may be giving out face masks or disposable gloves, consumers overwhelmingly want to use their own. According to the survey, 80% of consumers prefer to use their own face masks, and 75% prefer to provide their own disposable gloves.
Women are more likely than men to bring their own — 87% of women want to provide their own masks and 81% their own gloves. For men, 76% prefer to wear their own masks, and 73% their own gloves.
In other findings in the survey, consumer worry about the coronavirus ticked down slightly, with 82% expressing worry on April 20, compared with 87% in a prior survey conducted on April 3. Also, 80% of consumers in the April 20 survey said the coronavirus impacted their purchase decisions somewhat or significantly, compared with 89% during the prior survey.
Also, 62% of consumers reported on April 20 that they cut back on spending due to the coronavirus, the same as on April 3.
First Insight surveyed more than 500 U.S. consumers for the April 20 survey.