Fear is hardly the emotion business owners want customers to feel when they return to stores after coronavirus-related shutdowns are lifted. Creating an environment where shoppers feel safe and secure is crucial to drawing people back in, and new research may help owners position themselves for a positive return.
In an April 2020 survey conducted by retail predictive analytics company First Insight, which offers technology to help retailers price products, 500 Americans were asked about their sentiments regarding safety in retail, specifically as various store types begin to reopen. Consumers believed they would feel safest shopping in categories that never closed, including grocery stores (54%) and drug store chains (50%).
Mall stores ranked the lowest, with only one-third of respondents saying they'd feel safe. Ranking in the middle were big box retailers (45%), warehouse clubs (43%), and local small businesses (43%).
The study also included data by gender—with men feeling safer than women overall.
Gretchen Jezerc, senior vice president of marketing at First Insight, says it's no surprise that places in which consumers have already found ways to feel safe may feel more comfortable.
“There seems to be a correlation between the number and proximity of people in the store environment and perceived safety," she notes.