- Whole Foods ranks No. 1 among retailers for its health and safety practices during COVID-19, according to a report from global market research firm Ipsos. The research was based on 5,700 in-store visits from mystery shoppers.
- At Whole Foods, Ipsos found about 98% of associates wore face coverings inside and 91% respected six-foot boundaries when interacting with customers inside. About 95% of checkout lanes had plexiglass barriers, and contactless payment was available at 87% of the stores visited.
- The report ranked Costco second and Trader Joe’s third for their health and safety measures, with Trader Joe’s ranking highest for managing traffic at its entrance at 94% of stores visited.
Throughout the pandemic, these three retailers have proactively communicated their continued responses and store policies that try to keep associates and consumers safe.
Whole Foods has documented its response to COVID-19 on its website, including information about how it has adjusted its stores and its policies and benefits for its associates and customers. In addition to the metrics evaluated in the report, the grocer closed down all self-service food departments and installed spacing guidelines throughout its stores, and turned six of its stores into online-only "dark" stores that offer delivery-only. The company also provides shoppers with face masks and conducts temperature checks on employees, who are required to wear face masks and have access to face shields and gloves.
Costco is one of the most vocal retailers when it comes to requiring both associates and customers to wear face masks. In its study, Ipsos found 83% of Costco stores visited had employees wearing face coverings properly outside, and 95% inside the stores.
Trader Joe’s got the most credit for its efforts to control crowds in stores, which has been an important part of the company’s response. At many locations, customers are required to queue up outside, six feet apart, until a staff member ushers them in. According to Ipsos’ consumer research, people strongly value retailers’ efforts to actively monitor traffic and guest count.
Each of these retailers, however, has faced some backlash from consumers or associates. Trader Joe’s has seen some of its employees test positive for COVID-19, and associates have called for boycotts and attempted to unionize.
At Costco, upset customers who don’t want to wear masks are boycotting the club store. Over the course of the pandemic, Whole Foods employees have voiced concerns over their benefits and have staged “sick-outs” in March and in May.