More shop staff were subjected to verbal abuse last year as the industry's workers took a tougher stance on underage sales, a report has found.

Latest figures from the shopworkers' union USDAW revealed that 70% of staff had been verbally abused in the past 12 months, compared with just over 60% the previous year.

A massive 38% had also been threatened with violence, while 6% had been physically assaulted.

According to the survey, which came ahead of USDAW's Respect for Shopworkers week, almost half of all verbal abuse stemmed from a refusal to sell age-restricted products to those without identification.

Challenging shoplifters and refusing alcohol to intoxicated customers were also common triggers for verbal abuse, it said.

As C-Store went to press a female Costcutter employee from Evesham in Worcestershire was recovering from shock after a male customer vandalised the store she was working in and submitted her to a torrent of vicious verbal abuse. She had refused to serve him alcohol because she believed that he was buying it for an underaged girl.

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