NABMA has been provided with a further update from Storecheckers on the wearing of face masks. Their latest press release is as below.
“Leading Mystery Shopping organisation, Storecheckers, has been tracking the wearing of masks in Britain’s High Streets. Its latest research shows a welcome rise in the wearing of face coverings by both shoppers and store staff, testament that the population has finally seen the importance that masks can have in halting the spread of COVID-19.
Storecheckers sent Mystery Shoppers to look again at the 11 centres visited in September and assess how the wearing of masks affected their perception of COVID safety in the retail environment and their willingness to return. In parallel to these, 23 Convenience Store locations were also visited.
The main fieldwork took place as northern towns and cities were placed under Tier 3 restrictions and ended in the week before the Prime Minister told the nation that England would be entering into a second lockdown.
The results show that the public was impacted by these factors, with 84% of shoppers wearing masks, 5% more than in September, whilst shop staffs’ mask usage rose from 60% to 91%.
Jeff Caplan, Storecheckers’ Managing Director, commented: ‘October’s inexorable rise in COVID cases has encouraged more shoppers to wear masks, with the biggest growth seen in Northern COVID hotspots. As we move into the lockdown, more people wearing masks will help to bring the ‘R’ number down and, hopefully, hasten the return of some normality.’
Cardiff, Manchester and Warrington had just 4% of shoppers without masks. Manchester, along with Bradford and Liverpool, were COVID hotspots that saw double digit falls in the percentage of shoppers not wearing masks.
Looking at staff not wearing masks, of the 11 centres visited in September, five had shop staff unmasked rates of over 40%. Our October research showed a marked improvement, with no cases over 36%, and with only two locations over 12% – Brixton at 36% and Hatfield at 35%. The strongest adherence to mask wearing by staff was evidenced in Reading, with 99% wearing masks, and Warrington at 97% compliance. Bradford (12% v 76%) and Uxbridge (12% v 59%) showed significant falls in ‘no mask’ ratings.
Customers are far more likely to return to shops where all staff are wearing masks – 93% of visitors to outlets with all staff masked were ‘Fully Confident’ or ‘Quite Confident’ in returning, against 64% where not all staff had face coverings.
There was also a wide gap on perception of care. In shops where all staff wore masks 86% felt ‘Very safe’ or ‘Safe’ with COVID security, this dropped to 56% where not all staff had face coverings on.
Jeff Caplan added: ‘Our High Streets are on a knife edge. Customer confidence is essential to encourage people back into shops, so shops need to be vigilant in their COVID procedures to protect their customers, their staff, and their future. Customer experience and customer service must now include customer safety’.