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
Figures released in the 2015 British Crime Survey include some alarming statistics based on Commercial Victimisation. According to the findings, the wholesale and retail sector is one of the worst hit, with an estimated 4,123,000 crimes against businesses within a 365 day period; equating to 41% of all retail organisations within the sector.
This poses the question as to whether our retail staff are safe when performing their everyday tasks? What protection, if any, is put in place to protect their wellbeing? Can it be argued whether it is safe for them to be on a shop floor, opening up, locking up and carrying cash alone?
According to a 2015 report published by USDAW (Union of Shop Distributive, and Allied Workers) over half of shop workers were verbally abused in the last year, with more than 10% on a weekly or daily basis. John Hannett, USDAW General Secretary states: “All too often shop workers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job. There is the additional concern of Black Friday in November.”
An earlier USDAW report