Research by NSF International shows 86% of Brits want businesses to go beyond the Government’s minimum requirements

September 18, 2020

Less than 1 in 10 Brits (9%) would trust a business to assess its own health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19, according to new research – highlighting a formidable challenge as businesses look to get back on their feet.

The nationwide survey, commissioned by the public health and safety organisation NSF International, shines a light on the high expectations of consumers whilst underlining the need for businesses to do more to regain the confidence of their customers.

Just a quarter of the people surveyed (25%) said they currently felt safe to return to their day-to-day pre-COVID lifestyle habits. Almost half (48%) said they would only trust a business that is going above and beyond Government guidelines on COVID-19 – with a mere 14% saying they would trust businesses that ‘meet’ the minimum guidance.

As the UK slips into recession, it is more important than ever that consumers feel able to visit shops, bars, restaurants, and gyms – businesses that are vital to the country’s economy. When asked to identify measures that would help them to trust – and therefore return to – a business, consumers overwhelmingly opted for clearly positioned COVID-19 safe signage and rules of engagement, along with independent expert validation of a business’s hygiene procedures. Two thirds of respondents (66%) wanted businesses to be clearer and more visible about the COVID-19 prevention measures that are already in place.

At such a crucial time for the economy, businesses cannot afford to be remiss in their response to COVID-19 and risk losing the faith of their customers – possibly for good.

Rob Chester, UK Managing Director at NSF International explains: “Businesses across all sectors have a responsibility to put their all into COVID-19 health and safety measures. This is not a field where corners can be cut, or guidelines ignored. Trust is key to rebuilding consumer confidence and bringing customers back to businesses, but our research clearly shows that many people are currently only willing to trust experts, not businesses themselves. With constantly changing Government guidelines and an unknown viral threat, it is natural that consumers and savvy businesses are choosing to put their trust in scientists and experts. You can’t see COVID-19 particles, but you can see evidence of a business working hard to prevent their presence”

Martin Lush, Global VP of NSF Health Sciences added: “The Government has issued COVID-19 guidelines but, by their very nature, these are open to interpretation. When it comes to public health crises, the best approach is clear rules and practical advice, based on deep scientific expertise.

The fact that the public doesn’t wholeheartedly trust measures from the Government or businesses is worrying, as these are an essential starting point in our management of COVID-19. We must look to science-based expert guidance and ensure appropriate preventive measures are in place to help businesses remain COVID-19 ready.”

In response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, NSF International has launched Checked by NSF™, an independent programme that reviews all safety measures implemented by a business to mitigate COVID-19, makes recommendations based on public health guidelines and monitors ongoing compliance. Businesses that are verified by Checked by NSF™ bear a blue tick, helping consumers to identify COVID-19 safe establishments at a glance. The programme is tailored to help businesses open and operate with continuity – through customised plans based on the latest public health guidance and, crucially, in-depth scientific analysis.

For more information on Checked by NSF™ services, please visit the website or email


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium. Total sample size was 1001 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in August 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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