We’ve revealed new research on which supermarkets are doing the best in implementing coronavirus prevention measures.

Relying on checks from our network of local Shepherds who use a smartphone app to collect data, we were able to check 500 of the leading supermarket stores across the country. The Shepherds were required to complete a task list to record insights on stock levels, levels of staff abuse from shoppers and what COVID-19 safety measures are in place.

Our Shepherds reported on whether supermarkets had certain COVID-19 prevention measures in place, such as social distancing markings, informative signage, checkout screens and more. 

From this, we found that only 10% of supermarkets have measures in place for the clinically vulnerable and 38% have no staff wearing PPE.

Overall Asda had preventative measures in place in 76% of stores, the most of all supermarkets checked. Tesco follows closely with measures in 74% of stores while Sainsbury’s ranks the worst with measures in 56% stores.

The findings show a vast improvement from March, when Shepper completed a similar research project and found that 81% of supermarkets did not have any extra (visible) measures to protect against the virus. 

  • We also found that supermarkets seem to be excelling in certain areas of coronavirus preventative measures with 100% of Asda and Aldi stores having floor markings for queuing at tills and the remaining supermarkets following closely behind.
  • Most supermarkets have checkout screens in the majority of stores checked, with Morrisons and Lidl reaching 100%.
  • Additionally, all supermarkets have clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene upon arrival in over 70% of stores. 
  • We were able to flag some areas that COVID-19 protective measures could be improved. Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have no measures in place for the clinically vulnerable in over 90% of their stores. Tesco and Asda aren’t much better with no measures in over 80% of their stores.
  • While most supermarkets have hand sanitiser available on entry in over 70% of their stores, Sainsbury’s have this in only 25% of their stores.
  • The research findings also reveal that PPE is lacking in a number of stores. 48% of Lidl stores and 43% of Sainsbury’s stores had no staff in PPE.

We found that the more COVID-19 safety measures in a store means a longer queue time. With the UK average at 7 minutes, Sainsbury’s and Asda’s queue times are the longest at 10 minutes. Lidl, on the other hand, only has a queue time of 2 minutes. 

“Though shoppers may be frustrated by the current queuing times to enter supermarkets, our data has shown longer queue times are reflective of increased COVID-19 measures in store, meaning the longer you queue, the safer your shopping trip. Communicating this insight to shoppers through signage whilst they queue could prevent customer frustration  and in turn improve the work lives of supermarket staff.

In comparison to our study in March, we’re glad to hear some refreshing and positive news that supermarkets have been so responsive to coronavirus by putting protective measures in place. It’s particularly good to see that the majority of stores have clear signage and floor markings to help remind shoppers of social distancing guidelines. Our data has also revealed a few lacking areas, particularly when it comes to the clinically vulnerable. At the beginning of lockdown there was a lot of buzz about dedicating shopping times to these people and so on, it’s a shame this seems to have lost priority. We hope this data can help supermarkets focus their efforts for improvement.

Jan Vanhouttte, Shepper co-founder

Data set

  • May data
    • 500 supermarkets across the UK audited 
    • Data collected by the Shepper network 26/05/20 – 29/05/20
    • Retailers included: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi 
  • March data
    • 632 supermarkets across the UK audited
    • Data collected by the Shepper network 14/03/20 – 22/03/20
    • Retailers included: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi