A new website, ShopSafely, has reviewed 136 retail chains, comparing their official Covid-19 protection policies and giving each a grade ranging from A to F. Target, Best Buy, and Whole Foods each got either A or A-. So did Ulta, Total Wine & More, and Sears -- even though that troubled retailer is in the process of closing most of its stores. At the other end of the grading scale, Ace Hardware, Duluth, Hobby Lobby, Kwik Trip, and Levi Strauss all scored F. (Update: See Levi's blog post about its safety measures here.)
The grading was created by b8ta, a chain of 22 retail locations where shoppers can try out gadgets they've seen online in real life. The b8ta team say they put hundreds of hours of research into their review of retail chain Covid-19 policies, and that they are constantly monitoring them so that the grades are up to date.
What are the grades based on? The b8ta folks reviewed each of the retail chains against 14 sanitation practices, including requiring store employees to wear masks, requiring customers to wear masks, checking the temperature of store employees, limiting traffic into the store, offering contactless pickup, and sanitizing items that have been tried on, among others. Since businesses began reopening, the U.S. has seen an upsurge in Covid-19 infections, particularly in the South and West. Meanwhile, consumers, weary of ordering everything online and confining themselves to their homes, are both eager to shop in the real world and worried about the consequences of doing so. Many are very interested to know which of their favorite stores have infection prevention measures in place, and which do not.
What about your business?
If you run a retail store or consumer-facing business, it might be smart to take another look at your Covid-19 response policies and determine whether they match your customers' preferences and needs, and how you can best protect their safety and that of the people who work for you. Consider that about two thirds of the stores in the ranking require store employees to wear masks, and more than half offer contactless pickup with employees bringing pre-ordered purchases to customers' cars. If you haven't yet put either of these procedures in place, they might be a good place to start.
And one more thing -- whatever you're doing to protect customers from Covid-19, make sure they know about it. To create the ShopSafely scoring, b8ta employees reviewed the websites of the retail chains, looking for their official policies and practices for preventing infection. Many consumers are taking a similar approach, reviewing retailers' websites before visiting.
Even if you've issued a press release or posted information on social media, also make sure your website is updated with current information on any Covid-19 protections you have in place, linked from your home page. That way, your customers will know what to expect and how you'll keep them safe before they get there.