Shoppers unsure if retailers are putting their best effort into safety

An Ipsos survey also looks at how health precautions could impact long-term loyalty.

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A new study by Ipsos finds that as provinces and municipalities begin to relax COVID-19 restrictions, most Canadians consider health and safety to be the most important factor when considering a return to a retailer – and many aren’t sure that stores are pulling their weight.

The research firm polled 1,000 adults and found 82% of Canadians consider health and safety measures to be the most important factor when considering returning to a retailer. Meanwhile, 64% say they will stop or temporarily stop shopping at a location that does not take health and safety seriously.

And retailers should note that even as restrictions are eased and enhanced protocols are put in place, 80% of respondents report they will still delay returning to shopping once restrictions are lifted.

The survey also reveals a generational divide, with more boomers (71%) than Millennials (58%) and Gen Z (50%) reporting they will not patronize a store unless protocols are put in place. There are regional and gender breakdowns as well, with Albertans being the most emboldened (33%) to return to retail locations pending lifted restrictions, with Quebec and Atlantic Canada the most gun-shy (14%), and men more likely than women (20% vs 15%) to venture out.

Ipsos reports that there is a high potential for short-term switching behaviours, as well as long-term loyalty opportunities and that companies must adapt and change their operational standards to attract consumers back to their locations as COVID-19 restrictions are loosened.

This is because consumer expectations are changing: 60% of us now rate health and safety as equally important as good customer service. However, 69% of Canadians feel brands are not expending the greatest effort to keep customers safe, while 43% feel their own health and safety efforts exceed those of companies. In fact, 28% do not trust any industry to impose adequate health and safety guidelines.

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