Food Retailers Earn Pandemic Respect From Shoppers

Food Retailers Earn Pandemic Respect from Shoppers
Life still has to return to normal, but food retailers have won more consumer respect during the pandemic.

Food retailers stayed open during the pandemic, providing essential services to consumers, and that effort has apparently been recognized by consumers, at least according to a new survey.

The Harris Poll Essential 100, released Friday, June 12, listed the 100 leading U.S. companies and organizations deemed to have played “a truly essential role during the crisis” known as the COVID-19 outbreak.

The U.S. Postal Service took the top spot, but some major food retailers were recognized. They include Walmart (No. 5), Amazon (6), Target (29), Costco (34), Kroger (38), Aldi (44), Dollar General (45) and Sam’s Club (48). The bottom half of the list includes Whole Foods (52), Trader Joe’s (66) and Publix (86).

McDonald’s (27) topped other fast-food operations, while Tyson Foods (39) beat out other U.S. meat providers. As far as online food delivery services go — services with which many consumers have become pretty familiar with during the restaurant closures and stay-at-home mandates — Door Dash made the list, at No. 39.

The survey sought to rate companies “based on their resolve, integrity, responsiveness and permanence,” Harris said. “What is clear from the survey is, corporate America is seen as part of the solution today, rather than the problem, as was the case during the 2008 financial crisis.

Food retailers' efforts to clean carts, protect workers and customers with plastic barriers at checkout, and offer delivery and curbside pickup services during the outbreak likely helped them polish their reputations among consumers over the past few months. So did their ongoing efforts to donate money and goods to hard-hit consumers.

When they needed it the most, Americans put their trust in the business community to help them through COVID-19," said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, based in Rochester, New York. "We've seen widespread approval of the corporate response to the pandemic – whether pivoting to different goods and services, reinforcing supply chains, or seeking cures for the deadly virus."

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