Study: food shoppers still fret over COVID

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NEW YORK — With numbers of new cases of the COVID-19 virus setting records in the United States, it is no surprise that a new study by Hartman Group and FMI – The Food Industry Association reveals that American grocery shoppers remain concerned about their vulnerability to the disease. The good news for the grocery industry is that consumers view their primary food stores as their health and wellness allies.

The survey of 1,001 U.S. adults, which was conducted from October 1 to October 9, found that 62% of those polled were either “very” or “extremely” concerned about COVID-19, which continued to spread unabated in early November. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents also expressed concern about procuring food, or food shortages (31%) or being able to pay for food (21%).

However, fewer Americans are encountering out-of-stocks in their grocery stores (17% compared with 46% in March), and 62% of respondents said they believe their primary food store is helping them and their families stay safe and healthy.

That conviction probably reflects the very real efforts that grocers across the country are making to lessen the health risks for their shoppers. For example, Hy-Vee Inc., based in West Des Moines, Iowa, has recently unveiled an automated system manufactured by IZZA Manufacturing Co. that cleans and sanitizes shopping carts after every use. The Sterile Cart system uses a low-pressure spray system and a hospital-grade dry-in-place disinfectant. The small footprint (6 feet by 4 feet) system can easily be deployed in cart return areas.

Hy-Vee plans to have the system deployed at more than 200 locations across its eight-state region by mid-November.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been our desire to put Hy-Vee customers at ease with thorough sanitization measures,” says Randy Edeker, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We are always looking at innovative ways to improve store operations, improve the shopping experience for customers and, most importantly, ensure the health and safety of our customers and our employees.”

For its part, Target Corp. has implemented new in-store safety measures that include contactless self-checkout technology and has also doubled the number of parking spaces dedicated to its contactless Drive Up service.

Customers can now use Wallet, a mobile payment tool in the Target app, thus eliminating the need to pick up a scanning device. Wallet also makes Target Redcard payment, Target Circle offers, weekly coupons and gift cards accessible in one place for a single scan.



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