COVID-19 has undermined consumers’ sense of normalcy and forced them to make determinations about how they will ensure their own well-being. In an Ipsos study published in early February, as the Omicron variant was in sharp decline in the United States, only 21% of people polled felt that social settings should open up with no restrictions, while 29% wanted to move in that direction with some precautions, 23% wanted to mostly keep requirements in place, and 21% actually wanted to increase mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
Even in a March 1 Ipsos report, 51% of people supported their state or local government requiring masks in public places, which includes supermarkets; this percentage was down significantly but not dramatically from the 63% reported for the previous six months. The numbers suggest that consumers are making decisions about their health in public places and erring on the side of caution.
Even as the virus becomes less of an issue, the tacit agreement between shoppers and supermarket operators or anyone selling food remains at a somewhat elevated level of consciousness.
“Grocery shoppers deserve and expect a safe shopping experience,” says Ashley Eisenbeiser, senior director, food and product safety programs at Arlington, Va.-based FMI — The Food Industry Association. “Recent consumer research conducted by FMI and published in the ‘FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2021’ report shows 72% of customers expect a store to be clean and neat. Additionally, 91% of shoppers trust their grocery store to ensure that the food they purchase is safe.”