Abuse experienced by shopworkers has risen by a quarter in the past year according to a survey conducted by retail union Usdaw, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.
In 2016 around two thirds of those working in shops were verbally abused, with 40% claiming that they had been threatened whilst at work, an increase of 38% on the previous 12 months.
Some of the incidents reported by participants range from verbal abuse dished out by disgruntled customers, to physical assaults and threatening behaviour involving the use of weapons. In one example, a frozen gammon was thrown at a store employee by an irate member of the public. Other cases include threats of physical violence being made against staff, with some even being followed home after work.
Shoplifting and refusal to sell age restricted goods are often flashpoints, although workers are also commonly targeted when they are most vulnerable for example when working alone, handling money, taking deliveries or locking up.
Combining this with recent news that crime in England and Wales is rising year on year, against a