United Kingdom

COVID-19: Study reveals which shops have the best coronavirus safety measures

Three out of five shoppers have felt unsafe in supermarkets during the current lockdown, a study into consumer opinion on COVID-19 safety measures has found.

Lidl, the German-owned discount store and frozen-food specialist Iceland came in at the bottom of ten major supermarket chains, consumer watchdog Which? reported.

Only two-thirds of consumers polled said that in-store coronavirus health measures implemented by the two popular brands were either 'good' or 'excellent'. 

The most favourably ranked chains, meanwhile, were Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Waitrose, with around four in five customers expressing their approval.

The last year has forced shops to adapt to the global pandemic, adopting measures such as floor markings for social distancing, one-way systems and checkout screens.

Which? is calling for supermarkets to ensure that safety measures remain a priority so that people can shop confidently when lockdown measures are gradually eased.

Three out of five shoppers have felt unsafe in supermarkets during the current lockdown, a study into consumer opinion on COVID-19 safety measures has found (stock image)

The most favourably ranked chains were Sainsbury's, M&S and Waitrose, with around four in five customers expressing their approval. Pictured: the result of the Which? consumer survey into customer satisfaction with the in-store COVID measures of ten major supermarkets

MEASURES STORES SHOULD BE TAKING 

There are a number of measures supermarkets can adopt to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in-store. These include:

'Many retailers have adapted and introduced effective safety measures during the pandemic,' said Which? Magazine Editor, Harry Rose.

'However, our research shows shoppers feel some supermarkets are doing a better job than others at keeping them safe.'

'While lockdown restrictions are set to ease in the next few weeks, supermarkets should ensure their safety measures are the best they can be, so that everyone can shop confidently and safely.'

According to Which?, complaint levelled at the worst-performing of the major chains included that aisles were 'too narrow to easily social distance' in Lidl, while a customer of Iceland said there was a 'distinct lack of sanitizing products' at the door. 

One Co-op customer said that there were 'too many people allowed in-store and no enforcement of the one-way aisle system', while an Asda visitor complained of 'too many people in-store, no one-way system … and too many people without masks.'

The highest-ranked store for COVID-19 safety measures was Sainsbury’s, with 81 per cent of its customers surveyed saying that their policies were good or excellent.

One customer told Which? that, in Sainsbury’s, they ‘feel generally safe'. 

'The store is spacious and the option of self-serve with screens is good,' they added.

Lidl, the German-owned discount store (left) and frozen-food specialist Iceland (right) came in at the bottom of ten major supermarket chains, consumer watchdog Which? reported

For the study, Which? had Opinium surveyed 3,037 UK adults online between October 22–30 last year about their opinions on the COVID safety measures taken by individual supermarket brands. 

Opinium was also tasked to survey more than 2,000 UK adults during February this year about how safe they felt in supermarkets during the current lockdown.

The finding — that only 38 per cent of respondents felt safe — was a lower than the results of a similar study conducted in October last year, when 49 per cent of respondents reported feeling safe shopping in supermarket.

In all three investigations, the data was weighted to be nationally representative. 

The last year has forced shops to adapt to the global pandemic, adopting measures such as floor markings for social distancing, one-way systems (pictured) and checkout screens

HOW COVID-19 IS CHANGING THE BRITISH HIGH STREET

The High Street has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as people were told to stay inside for several national lockdowns. 

High Street stalwarts such as Debenhams, WH Smith and Clarks did not escape the bloodbath. 

In August 228-year-old business WH Smith said a dramatic fall in sales could force them to axe around 11 per cent of its workforce.

It was a grim announcement for an already hammered high street after hundreds of jobs were also cut at high street fashion chain M&Co.

The chain also announced the closure of 47 stores, taking the number of workers facing redundancy as a result of the Covid crisis above 100,000. 

Within one week over the summer 651 roles were lost at Byron, 1,700 put at risk at DW Sports, 878 lost at Hays Travel and 1,100 put at risk at Pizza Express.

John Lewis cut a further 1,500 jobs, adding to the 1,300 axed when it permanently shut eight stores in July.

The retail giant was widely seen as a benchmark for High Street performance in the UK. 

Lloyds Bank also announced their decision to make 1,070 more staff redundant on top of the 865 earlier in the pandemic.

Within the same 24 hours Marks & Spencer also reported its first loss in its 94 years as a listed company. The company had already cut 8,000 staff since March.

And Sainsbury’s also confirmed it would cut around 3,500 jobs across its Argos stores and supermarket meat, fish and deli counters, while Clarks shoes put the jobs of all 4,000 of its store staff on notice as part of its fight for survival.

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