Only two in five consumers have felt safe in supermarkets during the current lockdown, Which? has found, as new research from the consumer champion reveals how shoppers rate safety measures put in place by the biggest players in the sector during the pandemic.

In the last year, supermarkets have adapted their in-store operations to make shopping safer for customers by introducing measures such as checkout screens, limits on the number of people allowed in-store, and floor markings for social distancing.

When Which? asked shoppers to rate the Covid safety measures implemented in supermarkets they had recently visited, Iceland and Lidl were at the bottom of the table. Both the German discounter and the frozen food specialist had the lowest proportion of customers who rated the measures that had been implemented in-store as good or excellent.

Just two-thirds (66%) of Lidl and Iceland customers rated the supermarkets’ measures as good or excellent.

A Lidl customer complained the aisles were too “narrow to easily social distance”, while an Iceland customer said there was a “distinct lack of sanitizing products when entering the store”.

Co-op (69%) and Asda (70%) also finished in the bottom half. One Co-op customer said there were “too many people allowed in-store and no enforcement of the one-way aisle system”. An Asda customer also complained that there were “too many people in-store, no one-way system …and too many people without masks”.

Sainsbury’s finished at the top for Covid safety measures, with eight in 10 (81%) customers rating its procedures as good or excellent.

One customer explained that they ‘feel generally safe [in Sainsbury’s], as the store is spacious and the option of self-serve with screens is good.”

Sainsbury’s was closely followed by M&S (79%) and Waitrose (78%), with a similar percentage of customers also rating their Covid-safety measures highly.

During the current lockdown, with hospitals at record capacity, some stores have placed stricter limits on shopper numbers and started barring anyone not wearing a mask from entry, unless they’re medically exempt.

When Which? asked 2,010 members of the public how they felt about supermarket shopping during the current lockdown, only two in five (38%) said they felt safe. But just before the second lockdown in October 2020, 49 per cent said they felt safe.

Which? is urging all supermarkets to ensure safety measures remain a top priority so that people can shop confidently and safely as lockdown measures are eased gradually in the coming months.

Harry Rose, Which? Magazine Editor, said:

“Many retailers have adapted and introduced effective safety measures during the pandemic, 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.”


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