Retailers Get Graded: Who's Minding the Store?

NEW YORK, NY  – Just in time for the holiday shopping season, today the Getting Ready for Baby campaign co-released the Mind the Store campaign’s second annual report card on toxic chemicals in consumer products, which found that one-third of 30 major U.S. retailers are leaders, but two-thirds remain serious laggards.  The report, Who’s Minding the Store? -- A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals, includes evaluations of nineteen retailers for the first time, including both leading baby product retailers. Buybuy BABY, and owner Bed Bath and Beyond, received a “D+”, ranking 12th of the 30 retailers. By sharp contrast, Babies’R’Us, and owner Toys’R’Us, received an “F”, 22nd of those surveyed. 

Overall, eleven retailers evaluated in both 2016 and 2017 have showed substantial improvements in the past year, raising their grade from an average of D+ to C.  Seven of these eleven retailers announced significant improvements over the last year alone: Albertsons, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, The Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. released new safer chemicals policies or initiatives.  This improvement shows both the impact of the Mind the Store Campaign, as well as growing consumer concern and scientific evidence of health impacts from dangerous chemicals. 

Bobbi Wilding, coordinator of the Getting Ready for Baby campaign and deputy director of Clean and Healthy New York, said "Babies are especially vulnerable to chemicals of concern. You'd expect that stores catering to their needs would be leading the pack in this report, right? But Babies"R"Us got an F, and despite some recent improvements, buybuy BABY has only earned a D+, ranking 12th of the 30 companies surveyed. We call on both companies to make 2018 a year of vast improvement. Families deserve nothing less." 

"Babies and toddlers are uniquely vulnerable to chemicals of concern found in everyday items and in the environments where they spend time," said Maida Galvez, MD, MPH, FAAP, a pediatrician at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Families need to know that products on the market are in fact safe."

Kathleen Schuler, Co-Director Healthy Legacy coalition in Minnesota. “In Minnesota we’ve been working to advocate for better regulation of toxic chemicals in children’s products, but we also need retailer leaders. Babies'R'Us and buybuy BABY are in a position to transform the baby product marketplace so that parents don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals in products they buy for their kids.”

Tracy Gregoire, Healthy Children Project Coordinator for the Learning Disabilities Association of America shares, “We need all retailers to ensure that the products on their store shelves are safe. LDA and our state affiliates are working to eliminate the preventable causes of learning disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD and developmental disabilities like autism, and that includes chemical exposures. In fact, over a quarter of these disabilities are linked to unnecessary dangerous chemicals in products and other sources.“ She adds, “As a mom of a child with autism, the last thing I️ want is to expose my child to products with unnecessary toxic chemicals, adding to his challenges. I️ shouldn’t have to figure out if a product is safe or not. All products should be safe.”

"Companies that are transparent and work to restrict harmful chemicals in their products are valued and do well in the marketplace," said Hilary Baum, Program Director for the New York State Sustainable Business Council. "Retailers should not be complacent, nor should they hide their light - they should take action to screen out chemicals of concern and make sure their customers know about these efforts. They will be rewarded and the economy will continue to shift toward innovation and sustainability."

Apple, Wal-Mart Stores, CVS Health, IKEA, Whole Foods Market, and Target received the highest grades, scoring a B+ or above.  These companies are setting the pace for the entire retail sector by making meaningful progress toward safer chemicals in products. Meanwhile the report reveals that some retailers like Amazon, Walgreens, and Staples are developing chemicals policies.  Walgreens and Staples plan to launch their chemicals policies in 2018.   

However, 70% of the retailers evaluated remain serious laggards, earning D’s and F’s, for failing to publicly announce basic safer chemical policies to ensure the chemical safety of their products and supply chain.  Nine retailers received a failing grade of “F”: Ace Hardware, grocery chain owner Ahold Delhaize, Dollar General, Kohl’s, Office Depot, Sally Beauty, TJX, Toys’R’Us / Babies’R’Us, and Trader Joe’s. All of these received 0 out of 135 possible points, except for Toys’R’Us / Babies’R’Us, which received 5 points. 

The report also found that, over the past three years, at least a dozen retailers achieved significant reductions or elimination of dangerous chemicals in the products they carry, far ahead of any government-imposed restrictions. Unfortunately, nearly one-half of the 30 retailers evaluated have not publicly reported any progress in reducing or eliminating chemicals of concern over the past three years. 

For a full list of the retailers with their letter and corresponding number grades along with the methodology used, please go to: This new, interactive website enables users to view and sort retailers by their grades and consumer product sector.  Consumers can also use the report website to email and “Tweet” to companies, urging them to improve. 

Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and report co-author said, “We are thrilled that major retailers like Walmart, CVS Health, and Target are driving a race to the top to eliminate dangerous chemicals that threaten our families’ health. At the same time, far too many are lagging behind, failing to meet the rising consumer demand for healthy products. This holiday season, retailers should give us the gift of a toxic-free future.” 

Jose Bravo, Coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, said "It's disappointing to see the nation's largest dollar store chains got low or failing grades on hazardous chemicals in their products, but it probably isn't surprising to many people. When consumers start to expect your products to be dangerous it should serve as a wake-up call that more is needed. It's time for Dollar General and Dollar Tree to join other major retailers and enact broad corporate policies to protect their shoppers' families from toxic chemicals, especially because many dollar store shoppers can't always afford to make safer choices.” 

Tom Hucker, Safer Chemicals Advocate for NRDC, said “The Trump Administration is not going to protect you from toxic chemicals. It’s up to retailers to disclose dangerous chemicals in products they sell and to phase them out quickly. This new report card identifies those retailers working to reduce the risk to families and others that don’t seem to care.” 

To evaluate retailers’ policies, the Mind the Store campaign, the Getting Ready for Baby campaign, and the Campaign for Healthier Solutions collected and reviewed publicly available information about corporate safer chemicals programs, and shared draft findings with retailers to provide them an opportunity to review the conclusions, disclose additional information, and make new public commitments towards safer chemicals. 

Read the full report here.