The number of violent incidents causing injury to shop workers is on the rise, new figures from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey reveal.

The rate of violence with injury has doubled since last year to six per 1,000 members of staff, the survey of 1.1 million employees shows.

At that rate, across all roles in retail, 13 individuals were injured every day of the year.

Career criminals were intentionally using violence and abuse when challenged over stealing or when shop workers carried out age checks and refused sales, employees said.

Knives and stabbing implements were the most significant weapons used, followed by syringes.

The survey also reveals that the total direct cost of retail crime has risen to just over £700m, an increase of 6% on the previous year.

Customer theft remains the largest element, up 15% to £500m per year. Employee theft also grew by 36% since last year’s survey.

The survey did however reveal improvements in some areas, such as fraud, where the cost to retailers fell by 15%, nearly £30m, as a result of investments in prevention.

Just last month a McColls shop worker from Bryn, Wigan, was attacked with a crow bar and knocked unconscious after chasing man who stole cigarettes.

In the same week a shop worker was taken to hospital after being attacked by thieves who stole an counter-top display of scratch from a newsagents in Midsomer Norton, Bath.

Commenting on the findings, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE, said: “The figures on violence present a deeply concerning picture.

“Attacks on retail workers are intolerable, and our members are completely clear that keeping their staff safe and providing an environment in which they can work free of fear from threats and violence, is their first priority.

“Retailers are doing everything possible to ensure that staff members and customers are safe and protected. But they are now spending record amounts on crime prevention, which is a drag on the economic viability of shops and not infinitely sustainable.

“A new approach is required. Working with our key partners, we at the BRC are seeking to deliver an agreed strategy to halt violence and abuse in its tracks,” she added.