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7 Worst Grocery Stores That Are Too Unsafe to Shop

These chains have ranked the lowest in cleanliness ratings, according to Consumer Reports.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only made a visit to a grocery store a very stressful experience, but the close interaction it requires significantly increases the odds of you contracting the COVID-19 contagion. National grocery store chains are reacting in real-time to the burden they are shouldering, enacting new guidelines designed to keep both shoppers and staff safe. Regardless, grocery shopping has dramatically evolved from an enjoyable experience of procurement to one that is fraught with peril at every turn.

Keeping a supermarket clean is paramount in keeping shoppers safe. So, what makes the following chains the worst places to shop during the pandemic? They have either been cited for not abiding by accepted safety guidelines and/or have been rated as the least clean by Consumer Reports rankings. The following chains earned either a poor or fair rating for cleanliness by the esteemed buying guide, but we also selected ones with the lowest reader rankings as well.

It is fair to point out that all of the following chains have instituted prescriptive cleanliness standards for shoppers and staff since the report. But it's safe to assume that, if you were adjudged to be unclean in the past, your standards for cleanliness may not be optimal moving forward. Here is the countdown of the worst grocery stores. To keep yourself informed,  sign up for our newsletter to get important coronavirus foods news delivered straight to your inbox.

Stop & Shop

Stop and shop grocery store exterior

Stop & Shop got a fair rating on cleanliness, but only barely past 72 on Consumer Report's reader ratings. That said, the Boston-based chain did institute new standards for coronavirus, which include the adding of "third-party cleaning service to our already extensive cleaning procedures to hit key areas more frequently." But, they've also rather controversially decided to not turn away shoppers not wearing masks.


Safeway store front

Safeway is owned by Albertson's, and got a fair rating on cleanliness, but only barely past 72 on CR's reader ratings. They are currently taking safety steps to protect their customers, which include cleaning and disinfecting all parts of their stores. However, there has been a spate of coronavirus cases at a number of Safeway locations, and 51 cases and one death at a processing center.


Shaw's supermarket vermont
Shaw's Supermarket/Facebook

Shaw's is also owned by Albertson's, so they are taking the same steps as Safeway to protect their customers. That said, Shaw's is not requiring shoppers to wear masks, much to the chagrin of those social distancing guidelines put forth by the White House coronavirus task force. Speaking of, here are the 10 fast food chains that may not reopen any time soon for the same social distancing reasons.


marcs grocery

While the Ohio-based chain gets a CR reader rating of 77 (which is better than others), it is the first in this list to get a poor cleanliness rating from Consumer Reports. They are addressing cleanliness issues during the coronavirus pandemic, which they have listed for their customers on their website.

Walmart Supercenter

walmart storefront

Walmart is the world's largest retailer of, well, nearly everything. (Here are the 17 groceries to buy right now at Walmart during the pandemic.)  In Consumer Reports' rankings, their cleanliness rating is poor, and when combined with the reader ranking of 70, that adds up to not a great shopping experience. Walmart has had some associates succumbing to COVID-19, and they are the first chain to face a wrongful death lawsuit as a result. They have also instituted a one-way shopping pattern to increase social distancing, which many shoppers have flat out ignored.


tops grocery
Tops Friendly Markets/Facebook

The North Atlantic-based chain also got a very low 70 in Consumer Reports reader ratings, and a "poor" grade for cleanliness. They have posted the following to alert shoppers of how they are handling coronavirus sanitation.

Key Food

key food
Key Food/Facebook

Key Food is unique in that it is a cooperative of independently owned grocery stores that is headquartered in Staten Island. It has the lowest score of 69 in Consumer Reports reader ratings, and was rated "poor" in terms of cleanliness. Key Food's announcement on how they are addressing coronavirus? Sadly, it doesn't include anything on increased standards of cleanliness. Key Food has seen a lot of staffers quit due to coronavirus conditions, and have even begun running advertisements in the New York metro area to hire grocery store staff. To keep yourself safe while shopping at any grocery store, here are 7 tips for safe grocery shopping you should absolutely be following.

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