Verbal abuse and physical assaults on shopworkers have shot up by 25% on last year, an Usdaw report has found.
An average of 250 shopworkers were assaulted per day over the past 12 months, Usdaw’s annual Freedom From Fear campaign survey reported.
Four in 10 shopworkers were threatened and 62% were verbally abused this year, showed the preliminary findings from a survey of 1,455 shopworkers, released this week.
Respondents said they faced physical violence, threats, racist and sexist comments, drunk and disorderly behaviour, and aggressive reactions to carrying out the licensing laws and Challenge 25 check.
“Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. Many UK workers are on the front line of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault,” said Usdaw general secretary John Hannett.
“Usdaw’s survey findings are in line with other statistics recently released. The Office for National Statistics last month reported an 11% increase in shoplifting, continuing the trend of a 26% increase since 2012, and theft from shops is often a trigger for abuse of shopworkers. Earlier in the year the British Retail Consortium revealed a 40% increase in incidents of violence and abuse against retail staff as part of its annual retail crime survey.
“Life on the front line of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them. We launched our Freedom From Fear campaign in the face of growing concerns among retail staff about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and customers alike.”
Hannett also called on the government to protect shopworkers by imposing stiffer penalties for assault.
Usdaw’s ongoing Freedom From Fear Campaign works to prevent abuse against shopworkers by educating the general public and lobbying the government. Its annual Respect for Shopworkers week runs from 13 to 19 November.