The present study sought to develop a conceptual framework to explain the influence of protective measures adopted by the retail enterprises against the COVID-19 virus on customers’ attitudes toward these measures, and the safety during the shopping experience, as well as the satisfaction with these types of protective measures and behavioral intentions. A structural equation modeling and metric invariance test were used as the data analysis technique. Our results revealed that the protective measures against the COVID-19 virus significantly and positively influenced customer safety during shopping, the attitudes and satisfaction, which contribute to an increase of their behavioral intentions as a result. The mediating role of attitudes and safety was also uncovered. In addition, our findings from the metric invariance test indicated that gender, age, education, and income significantly moderated the relationships among the studied constructs. Our results can help retail practitioners and researchers develop a strategy to effectively implement protective measures against COVID-19 in the retail enterprises.
The new coronavirus (COVID-19) represents a severe global health crisis and proved to be disastrous the world over due to its highly contagious nature (Chan et al., 2020; Prentice et al., 2020). Since March 2020, the COVID-19 virus has spread rapidly around the world, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2020). In order to prevent/minimize the spread and transmission of the virus, governments worldwide imposed some important measures and regulations, such as partial or complete lockdowns, self-isolations, social distancing, and curfews. Also, citizens have been required to wear face masks in public areas, avoid large gatherings, and limit visits to stores. However, these measures and regulations have had a major negative impact on the economy worldwide (Nicola et al., 2020). In particular, the sectors that rely predominantly on high levels of human interaction, such as retail enterprises, have experienced the worst impact (Hoque et al., 2020).
5. Limitations and future research
This study contains several limitations that need to be pointed out. First, this research focused on attitude, safety, satisfaction, and intentions as the positive consequences of the retail enterprises’ efforts to protect customer health and safety during shopping. Future research could expand the proposed conceptual framework by including other possible outcomes of the protective measures against COVID-19 in a retail context. Second, the survey was conducted among Romanian individuals in order to collect the data. Therefore, the results should be cautiously generalized to retail customers of different nationalities/ cultures. Third, the conceptual framework was tested in a retail context. Consequently, future studies could apply the proposed framework to other types of services, which could include tourism, hospitality, education, and leisure.