The safest grocery stores during the pandemic revealed

Grocery shopping during the novel coronavirus pandemic has become something that feels like a special mission every day you head to your local store. Luckily, the Ipsos Consumer Health and Safety Index, which launched Wednesday, June 3, just evaluated and named the top three safest grocery stores to shop at during the pandemic. Those grocery stores areĀ Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe's (via Supermarket News).

The Ipsos Consumer Health and Safety Index evaluates health and safety, as it relates to COVID-19, at retail stores across several industries. To determine which stores are safest during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Ipsos conducted a thorough research process. They polled 2,000 Americans to find which health and safety measures matter most to the public. With those measures set, Ipsos then anonymously shopped at 45 brands to evaluate how well each complied with safety and health standards. Ipsos visited 125 locations for each brand to conduct the study, so the results were very well researched.

"We found that 62 percent of shoppers would stop shopping at a retailer not taking health and safety seriously," Nick Mercurio, executive vice president and service line head of U.S. channel performance at Ipsos, said in a statement.

What the safest grocery stores have in common

Whole Foods was at the top of the pack with the best performance in the study. According to Ipsos, Whole Foods had "near-universal compliance" with regard to face masks, which 98 percent of staff wore. Social distancing was largely followed at 91 percent, and plexiglass barriers at checkout were present 95 percent of the time. Contactless payment was also available at 87 percent of the Amazon-owned stores.

Costco was second on the list with 83 percent of staff wearing masks outside and 95 percent correctly wearing masks inside. Social distancing markers were present 94 percent of the time too.

Finally, Trader Joe's was very consistent across stores and paid close attention to customers' concerns. Trader Joe's actually surpassed all other grocers by managing shopper capacity with 94 percent of stores actively controlling the entrance.

There's still a lot of room for improvement at grocery stores overall, as staff with improperly-worn face masks (or absent facemasks) were present at 25 percent of stores. As many as 51 percent of employees were not wearing gloves in the stores either. Hand sanitizer wasn't offered at 77 percent of stores visited, and 64 percent of stores didn't actively clean high-traffic areas inside the stores.

While all of these components are important for healthy shopping, consumers can also step up to protect themselves as possible. Bring your own hand sanitizer in case it isn't available at stores, and be patient. Don't overcrowd people so you can maintain social distance (via Healthline).