- Grocery chains Kroger and Whole Foods are among the most trusted retailers in the United States, in part because their large networks of brick-and-mortar stores help them connect with shoppers who say they place less confidence in merchants with only an online presence, according to newly released survey data from market research firm Morning Consult.
- The share of consumers in the survey reporting they do all or most of their shopping online has nearly doubled since before the pandemic, rising from 13% to 24%.
- Retailers' ability to retain the trust of consumers throughout the COVID-19 crisis reflects their focus on keeping up with consumer demand and serving customers who prefer to make purchases in person, Morning Consult reported.
While grocery stores continue to enjoy high levels of consumer trust, they have seen the positive sentiment they earned early in the pandemic erode somewhat as the economy has reopened and given shoppers other options for in-store shopping.
Home improvement chains Home Depot, Lowes and Ace Hardware all currently are ahead of food retailers on Morning Consult's list of the 20 most trusted retail and grocery brands. Amazon, Target and Costco and Walmart, which carry groceries but focus on a wide array of other products as well, also scored higher on the list than pure-play grocers Kroger and Whole Foods.
"As the country’s crisis mode has softened, so has consumers’ focus on grocery stores, resulting in a slight downtick in trust," according to Morning Consult's report.
The Morning Consult poll, which took responses from 4,400 U.S. adults into account, found that the percentage of shoppers who shop for groceries primarily in person has dropped markedly since early 2020, from 84% to 70%. Still, the combination of rising consumer interest in buying online and the connection Morning Consult drew between whether a retailer has a brick-and-mortar precedence and how much people trust it bodes well for grocers.
Just over a third of respondents to the survey said they don't have faith in retailers that operate only online. Meanwhile, nearly 73% of people in the survey who indicated they are inclined to trust companies said they trust retailers with both physical and online presences to "act in the best interests of consumers."
The poll also found that e-commerce has become increasingly popular among people who lean toward shopping in stores, with 41% of respondents with a preference for physical retailers reporting that they have tried curbside pickup services, Morning Consult reported. Notably, buying items online for pickup at a drop-off location has gained traction even with people who prefer to shop in-person; 14% of shoppers in that category said they had tried the option.