Frustration over the rising cost of living has resulted in increased pressure on shopworkers.
Polling conducted for this year’s #Shopkind Week (17 – 23 April) campaign has revealed that more than one in three people believe that shopping has become more frustrating as a result of the cost of living crisis and that 36% of customers have personally witnessed a shopworker being verbally or physically abused by another customer.
The research also found that 31% of customers are more anxious when they shop, and which situations are most likely to lead to abuse of shopworkers. The most frequently cited triggers in the survey were:
- Not enough staff to serve
- Queues at the till
- Products not being available
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman highlighted the extent of the issue. “It’s clear that the cost of living crisis is putting additional pressure on people when they’re out shopping, but this is too often translating into abuse of shopworkers,” he said. “Colleagues in shops are there to help and deserve to be treated with respect, and there is never a good excuse to be abusive towards them. We’re pleased that there is such widespread support in the retail sector and from the Home Office for the Shopkind campaign, which we hope will urge frustrated shoppers to think twice before an incident escalates into abuse.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner & APCC Business and Retail Crime Lead Katy Bourne said the impact of this behaviour has long-lasting effects. “I have spoken with children of shopworkers who fear for the safety of their parents going to work, with store managers who have been threatened with knives and shop owners who have had to close their facilities due to abuse. I’ve also spoken with retail workers who have been shouted at, spat on and pushed. This type of behaviour must not be tolerated. I want people to reflect on how they would feel if someone came to their place of work and treated them in the same way. It doesn’t take much to show respect and kindness to all our retail workers and make shopping a nicer experience for everyone.”
The #ShopKind campaign, backed by the Home Office and supported by over 100 leading high street retailers, the nation’s shopkeepers and trade union USDAW, aims to remind customers about the importance of being considerate to shopworkers and each other.
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis added: “Usdaw very much welcomes the ShopKind campaign, which brings together voices from across the retail sector, politicians and the police to promote a message of respect for shopwokrers. Usdaw’s own annual survey found that nearly three-quarters of our members working in retail suffered verbal abuse last year, with far too many being threatened or assaulted. These are key workers delivering essential services and we stand together to say that abuse should not be a part of their job. We need better co-ordination to ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safer and give staff the support and confidence they need to report incidents. This week of action is a great step towards that aim.”
If you have any information about someone who is abusive or violent towards retail workers, please let Crimestoppers know 100% anonymously on freephone 0800 555 111 or by competing a simple and secure Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Retailers looking to get involved with the campaign during #Shopkind Week (17 – 23 April) can download supporting materials from the National Business Crime Centre website at https://nbcc.police.uk/business-support/shopkind/shopkind-webpage.