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Survey Uncovers Shopper Frustrations During Pandemic

3 in 4 consumers fear getting COVID-19 while grocery shopping
grocery shopping
Photograph: Shutterstock

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, grocery retailers have worked to create an environment that is safe for their communities and employees by implementing mask mandates, enforcing social distancing and creating one-way aisles. Despite this effort, a majority of consumers are still concerned about their safety in the supermarket, according to a new survey.

Charleston|Orwig, a strategic marketing and communications agency, and Menu Matters, a strategic consultancy in foodservice, polled 1,150 consumers across the United States and found that 75% are worried about catching COVID-19 while grocery shopping.

“As more consumers are out and about, any activity is seen as a concern. Grocery shopping is no different,” said Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, in a release. “Even though supermarket managers made positive changes during the pandemic, this survey shows they haven’t yet fully addressed consumer concerns.”

The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of consumers find pandemic-era grocery shopping at least somewhat frustrating, with women and older millennials who are more likely to have young children among the most frustrated.

Mark Gale, CEO of Charleston|Orwig, said retailers can ease this frustration by creating “a stronger connection with their customers.”

The firms offered the following steps retailers can take to improve customer satisfaction:

  • Notify customers of possible shortages and when out-of-stock products become available again. Virtually all respondents (93%) experienced out-of-stock situations while grocery shopping in the past month.
  • Improve usability of online ordering sites and apps for delivery and/or pickup. Fifty percent of consumers are using one or more options.
  • Allow customers to preorder items that are currently unavailable.
  • Train personal shoppers to understand customer preferences, especially when substituting. Fifty-eight percent of consumers who substituted items found a new brand they would continue to buy.

“Enhanced communication is what customers want. Digital channels are perfect vehicles,” Gale said.

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