The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of Americans online to purchase the everyday products they needed, accelerating the rise of e-commerce and forcing retailers to navigate online consumer relationships during a time of particular turmoil. Trust was vital, and it will continue to be vital for retailers looking to leverage consumers' new shopping habits.

To better understand how retailers can grow consumer trust, particularly in regards to online shopping, Morning Consult surveyed 4,400 U.S. adults to gauge their overall trust in this industry and to learn how trust is built ­­­— and how it’s broken. Morning Consult also tapped into its flagship platform, Morning Consult Brand Intelligence, to see which retailers consumers trust the most.

As an expansion of Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands landscape report, this report provides a framework for any retailer that is looking to build trust with new consumers in a world that has undergone dramatic digital acceleration over the last year, and how to avoid undermining that trust.



The retail industry is emerging from the past year and a half with no deterioration in consumer trust, showing they have balanced high demand, low supply and the needs of consumers who typically don’t shop online.


Home improvement brands have earned some of consumers’ highest trust: Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware are among the top five of Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Retail Brands.


The pandemic has greatly accelerated the consumer shift to online shopping: Roughly one-quarter (24%) of respondents said they do all or most of their shopping online, doubling the share who said the same of their habits pre-pandemic (13%).


Online-only retailers still have a way to go: Roughly one-third (34%) said they don’t trust retailers with just an online presence, and they have to do things to earn their trust.


Protecting user data is a top trust driver for consumers looking to shop online. This is a particularly important element for retailers to embrace, with so many new pandemic-induced online shoppers.


Refusing to offer money-back guarantees, a particularly important element when shopping online, would prevent about half of the public from purchasing from an online retailer.

Up Next: Why Brand Trust Matters in Retail and E-commerce

© 2021 Morning Consult, All Rights Reserved.