Shopworkers union Usdaw has urged customers to respect staff and employers to ensure safety in stores, as shops are allowed to reopen from today (15 June).
The statistics revealed 62% of the 4,928 shopworkers surveyed have experienced verbal abuse, with almost a third being threatened by a customer. Usdaw also revealed 4% of employees were assaulted, which amounts to more than 3,500 every day when averaged across all retail workers.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “The safety of our members and the public is our top priority, so Usdaw worked with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on joint safety guidance for shops.
“Retailers have to publish risk assessments and implement robust safety measures before they reopen and we urge employers to work with the union to ensure their staff have a proper say in that process.”
“Importantly shops should not be allowed to remain open if retailers do not follow the guidance and operate safely. We will continually monitor the situation and support our members as they return to work.”
He added: “However, safety in stores needs customer cooperation and I am shocked that abuse of shopworkers has doubled during the coronavirus emergency.
“It is a disgrace that a minority behave this way, at a time when we should be pulling together to get through this appalling pandemic. At no time should abuse be a part of the job. Shopworkers deserve respect.”
Earlier this month, the union condemned government plans to let supermarkets open for 24 hours a day on Sundays as “a slap in the face” for key workers.
The news comes as the government is considering trading laws limiting supermarket Sunday opening times to six hours, in an attempt to boost the economy.
The union said its members were already under “huge pressures” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.