Consumers Want More Time Before Returning to Retail Establishments

Consumers Want More Time Before Returning to Retail Establishments

Majority of consumers wouldn’t feel comfortable in stores, restaurants and hotels until the fall
Retail safety sign

As businesses work on accommodating pandemic safety concerns to reopen their doors for customers, consumers are saying ‘not so fast.’

A survey conducted in late June by mobile technology provider, SafetyCulture, sought to gauge consumers’ perceptions about the reopenings of nonessential establishments, such as restaurants, bars and even office buildings.

The news isn’t good for businesses hoping to recoup their customer base, as the majority of respondents said they weren’t comfortable frequenting such establishments for at least a few more months.

A slow return to normal

Throughout the pandemic, consumers understandably have expressed a reluctance to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. In response, businesses have implemented new procedures, such as social distancing guidelines and thorough cleaning methods, to try to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

However, those efforts might not be enough. Among respondents to the SafetyCulture survey, 71% said they would not feel very comfortable shopping in a retail store in the next three months. Bars and restaurants don’t fare much better, as 52% of respondents said they would be either “very uncomfortable” or somewhat “uncomfortable” eating in a restaurant or drinking at a bar within that time period.

If consumers do decide to venture out to travel, they may be planning to stay with family or friends. The survey found that 54% of respondents said they would feel “very uncomfortable” or somewhat “uncomfortable” staying at a hotel over the next three-month period.

Also, despite the precautions employers are taking to make companies safe for employees, nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) said they would not be “very comfortable” going back to the office in the next three months.

Consumers seeking reassurance

The survey also set out to learn whether there was anything that business owners could do to increase consumers’ comfort level with visiting retail and office establishments. In a previous survey, consumers indicated that they wanted to return to the routines they had established before the pandemic. However, safety fears may trump that desire.

The survey discovered that transparency is important to consumers, as many want to know what specific steps companies are taking to respond to the pandemic, and how often they are taking those actions. Consumers also want to make sure businesses’ actions align with their objectives.

For example, more than half of respondents (53%) said they want to see a list of daily safety measures that businesses are taking in their public areas, as well as a status report of when those actions were last completed. Such a public display would increase the trust they have in those establishments, survey respondents said.

Also, a majority of respondents said they want to know more about the cleaning practices of the businesses they frequent. Specifically, 57% of respondents said they want businesses to make a list of cleaning and disinfectant routines completed each hour throughout the day and update that list in real time. Respondents indicated that such attention to detail would also increase their trust and confidence in that business moving forward.

Methodology: SafetyCulture surveyed 1,198 adults between June 24-25 via data and analytics firm YouGov’s platform.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.