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This is the grocery store chain that was just ranked #1 for coronavirus safety measures

Published Jun 11th, 2020 9:54AM EDT
Whole Foods
Image: Peter Foley/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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  • Whole Foods is arguably the safest grocery store chain to shop at, according to a new report that ranked grocery destinations on the basis of health and safety measures they’ve implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, checks employees’ temperatures daily, requires everyone to wear face coverings inside, and rigorously adheres to social distancing.
  • Costco and Trader Joe’s also get high marks for their coronavirus-inspired safety measures.

Unlike some of my colleagues here at BGR who live in coronavirus hotspots and don’t feel at all confident about visiting many (or any) public places yet, I’ve been making a trip to the grocery store once a week or so at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer I’ve chosen for this is Target (more precisely, a specific Target near where I live) because I’m happy with the myriad changes they’ve made that I can actually see. It includes everything from making employees wear masks to aggressively enforcing social distancing inside, installing plexiglass in front of cash registers, and supporting Apple Pay so that I don’t have to touch any cash, to name a few of the things I like. I also confine my shopping to, obviously, off-peak hours, which is one of the steps we suggested taking in this earlier piece that noted how to keep yourself safe while shopping. All of this begs an interesting question, though — I feel safe shopping for groceries at Target, but is there one retailer above all others that most people might feel is safe to venture out to right now for groceries?

Turns out, we kind of have an answer for you, based on the findings of 5,700 in-store fact-finding visits from mystery shoppers seeking to quantify this answer. According to a new report from Grocery Dive, the safest store to visit right now during the COVID-19 pandemic is … drumroll … Amazon-owned Whole Foods.

Global market research firm Ipsos actually conducted the analysis here, which ranked Costco and Trader Joe’s second and third, respectively, on the basis of health and safety measures that have been implemented at each because of the coronavirus.

The study awarded the highest marks to Whole Foods because of the fact that 98% of associates were wearing face coverings, while 91% seemed to respect 6-foot boundaries, thus promoting social distancing when interacting with customers inside. Additionally, 95% of checkout lanes were fitted with plexiglass barriers between customers and employees, and the vast majority of stores that were visited supported contactless payment options.

According to Whole Foods itself, other steps that have been taken include:

  • Asking that all customers wear masks and providing them with one if needed.
  • Whole Foods has also implemented mandatory daily temperature check screenings for both employees as well as Prime Now shoppers in all stores and facilities in the US.
  • Another safety measure at Whole Foods is the limitation on the number of shoppers inside at any one time, based on the store’s physical size. Whole Foods has also installed spacing guidelines for lines throughout the store, including outside of the store, as well as at cash registers.

All of this should go far toward reassuring shoppers, at least at Whole Foods, that plenty of steps have been taken to mitigate any risk to their health during the pandemic. Remember, though. Depending on your risk tolerance, you don’t have to resign yourself to in-store shopping, no matter how many safety measures a retailer has taken. Grocery delivery is an option, too.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.