Violence against shopworkers rose by 50% in 2006, according to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The BRC's annual crime survey, released as shop staff face further abuse from teenagers affected by the change in tobacco purchase legislation, also reveals that threats of violence against staff more than doubled in the period 2005-2006 and the number of incidents per store rose by 18%.
Commenting on the figures, BRC director general Kevin Hawkins accused local authorities and police of "treating retail crime as if it doesn't matter" and called on home secretary Jacqui Smith to use her influence to ensure retailers and shopworkers receive the same level of protection at work as they would expect at home.
"The figures show the current approach to shop crime isn't working. Last year retail employees were subjected to about half-a-million incidents of abuse or violence in the workplace."