A new national survey conducted by global research firm Ipsos has determined that Panda Express is currently the safest restaurant chain for consumers. The survey was aimed at evaluating COVID-19 health and safety measures taken by various retailers and restaurants.
Ipsos gathered the data from thousands of in-store visits by Mystery Shoppers, that were taking stock of in-store changes various brands have implemented to make their customers feel safe on their premises.
Not only did Panda Express check all the precaution boxes, but they were consistent about implementing them across numerous locations and visits. Each brand was visited by a mystery shopper between 75 and 125 times.
The Chinese food chain outperformed industry competitors on health- and safety-related signage, compliance with employees wearing protective gear, and enforcing distancing measures. As many as 67% of Panda Express locations that the Mystery Shoppers visited had signage reminding customers to stay 6 feet apart, and 63% had signage regarding limited store occupancy at the exterior, which is high compared to industry averages of 42% and 17% respectively.
The restaurant also made sure to provide dedicated one-way exist and entrances at most locations, and plexiglass barriers were spotted in the vast majority of locations, too.
Furthermore, the staff at Panda Express restaurants were wearing their masks properly 96% of the time, and 82% of the time they were wearing gloves. Shockingly, the industry average for staff properly wearing masks is as low as 27%.
"We are witnessing a century-old approach to customer experience make monumental changes in a matter of weeks and months; it's really quite impressive," said Shohini Banerjee, Senior Vice President at U.S. Channel Performance group at Ipsos. "Many of the COVID-19 precautions and improvements are not small or inexpensive—they're a complete shift in how employees behave and how products and services are distributed—a total disruption that retail has taken in stride."
The study included several other business categories, like grocery stores, where the winner was Whole Foods, and financial services, where the winner was Wells Fargo. It's worth noting that the survey only included a small sample of brands—25 across four categories. Still, it is undeniable that some businesses are faring better than others when it comes to protecting their customers and employees.
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