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Consumers are adjusting behaviors to avoid public restrooms.

New data reveals 36% of consumers have planned shorter shopping trips to avoid using public restrooms.

Americans are going out into the world less often, and they’re also going less frequently when they are out. (Yes, we’re talking about the bathroom.) In fact, because of COVID-19 they’re planning their shopping trips specifically around the call of nature in order to avoid public restrooms. Big Red Rooster, a JLL company, partnered with ENGINE Insights, the research and analytics division of ENGINE, and surveyed 1,000 representative U.S. adults in September 2020 about what they expect of the post-COVID public restroom.

“Consumers are constantly thinking about safety,” said Emily Albright Miller, Vice President of Strategy at Big Red Rooster. “Especially when it comes to the cleanliness of public restrooms. Clear communication surrounding cleaning protocols, including visible, consistent time stamps of the last clean can help consumers feel safe—which could have a direct impact on whether or not they choose to order another drink or browse another rack.”

The survey found:

· 98% of consumers believe restroom cleanliness is important

· 42% have used public restrooms significantly less than they did before the pandemic

· One-third have left a public restroom without using it due to lack of cleanliness

· 36% have planned shorter shopping trips to avoid using public restrooms

· 9% have used a portable toilet to avoid going into a public restroom

· 12% say they or a family member has urinated outdoors to avoid a public restroom

· 15% report holding their breath during their restroom trip

“As we enter into what is typically the busiest time of year for shopping and traveling, it is important for organizations to understand and adapt based on what consumers need to feel safe,” said David Albert, Managing Director, ENGINE Insights. “The less time people spend at a specific location, the less they will spend with that business. To avoid a negative impact on the bottom line, it is critical for brands to commit to the restroom amenities that help consumers feel safer in public restrooms.”

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