Research by a charity for UK retail workers reveals that attacks on retail workers are worsening amidst levels of in-store crime.
Staff from over 200 retailers have spoken to The Retail Trust about the wave of assaults and theft that is making them feel unsafe and likely to quit the industry as they fear for their safety.
The Retail Trust’s survey of more than 1,600 retail workers found:
- 41% of staff are spat on, shouted at, abused, and threatened each week, and 47% are left feeling unsafe in the workplace.
- 64% said confronting shoplifters has caused the abuse, and incidents have increased over the last two years.
- 56% said that the cost-of-living crisis was to blame for shoppers taking out their frustrations on them.
- 67% want stricter penalties for customers who abuse shop workers and 33% say that they think police should take more action against shoplifters.
Michael Earl, supervisor at a frozen food and grocery supermarket in Liverpool, told MerseyNewsLive some of the measures that have been put in place due to the rise in abuse towards staff.
we have to wear panic alarms
He said: “We have only just got a security guard recently because of the type of area we work in, it’s a very rough and dangerous area.
”It’s so bad sometimes we have to get an extra person in to ‘act like a guard.’ On top of that we have to wear panic alarms and we keep the phone near by just in case the police need to be called.”
A YouGov poll commissioned by the Retail Trust supports the rising intolerance trend, and 68% of shoppers say that they admit to getting annoyed at staff.
One in five also admit to raising their voice at service workers or losing their temper.
Over 1,600 retail workers shared their harrowing experiences with shoplifters including physical violence, abuse, death threats and weapons.
Sarah Griffiths, a retail assistant in Walton, told MerseyNewsLive some of the experiences she has faced: “I’ve experienced quite a lot of physical abuse. I’ve been spat at, hit, smacked, ragged, I’ve had a blade put to me, a knife.”
Violence toward shop workers has almost doubled compared with pre-pandemic figures, the BRC’S Crime Survey suggests that 850 incidents happen each day- and these are the ones that are actually reported to police.
Sarah told MerseyNewsLive that even when she isn’t at work, she fears for her safety incase any of the shoplifters recognise her: “It’s not only going to work, it’s the travelling to and from work as well, incase any shoplifters recognise you.”
If you have been affected by this, click here for the Retail Trust wellbeing helpline
Featured image (c) Cassie Ward