Violence against shopworkers doubles in the retail crime epidemic

Retail trade union Usdaw has recently announced shocking statistics from their annual survey of over 5,500 retail staff showing that 18% of shopworkers suffered a violent attack last year, compared to 8% in 2022. The increase in assaults comes during an epidemic of retail crime with official stats and reports from retailers showing significant increases in theft from shops. The survey also found the number of incidents has come down since the exceptionally high levels during the pandemic, but remain higher than pre-Covid levels in 2019. In the last twelve months (pre-pandemic levels, from the 2019 survey):

  • 70% (68%) have experienced verbal abuse
  • 46% (43%) were threatened by a customer
  • 18% (5%) were assaulted

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “No-one should feel afraid to go to work, but our evidence shows that too many retail workers are. It is shocking that nearly a fifth of our members working in retail are being assaulted for simply doing their job and serving the community. They provide an essential service and deserve our respect and the protection of the law.

“Violence and abuse is not an acceptable part of the job and much more needs to be done to protect shopworkers. The UK Government has repeatedly failed to act in the face of an epidemic of retail crime, rising theft from shops and assaults against retail workers. It is disappointing that they have no measures in their legislative programme to tackle this issue. We support opposition attempts to amend the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill, so that the law is strengthened to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse.

“A protection of shopworkers law is also supported by many retailers. It already exists in Scotland and has secured over 500 convictions. We also need more neighbourhood police with patrols in town centres, respect orders to ban repeat offenders and an end to the £200 threshold for investigating and prosecuting shop theft. Most of all, we ask the public to support our campaign by respecting shopworkers.”