COVID-19 has, of course, had a huge impact on how many businesses operate. During March 2020 most retailers had to close their shop doors, and those stores which did stay open had to adapt very quickly and put radical new measures in place.
Supermarkets in particular have stepped up to meet the emergency COVID-19 Health and Safety regulations, making huge efforts to ensure social distancing is observed to keep all their staff and customers safe. These have included a wide variety of imaginative in-store safety precautions such as:
- Managed queuing systems (more recently traffic light systems are being trialed)
- Floor markers
- Trolley cleaning stations
- Protective screens for till staff
- Special opening hours
- Essential food boxes for the vulnerable
- More delivery slots to help vulnerable customers who were no longer able to visit the store in person because they are shielding.
If it hadn’t been obvious before, it’s now clear what an essential role supermarkets play in keeping society going, and their determination to continue providing this while also protecting staff and customers has been recognised. Findings from the latest wave of our Great Green Sustainability Study, conducted in May 2020, show that supermarkets have seen the biggest positive increase in brand perception out of all types of retail business, with an average of 20% of consumers claiming they’re more positive about supermarkets.
This is further reinforced by the fact that supermarkets’ overall scores for social responsibility have increased on average by 9% from October 2019 to May 2020, while specific scores for ‘caring for customers’ and ‘caring for staff’ have both increased by 7%.
As other, non-essential retailers are given the green light to reopen, they should follow the example set by supermarkets, both so that they can start operating again in a safe and efficient way, and to protect and nurture their reputations.