Violence and abuse against retail workers in the UK have tripled during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual retail crime survey.
The number of daily incidents grew from 455 in 2019/20 to 1,301 in 2020/21, with 125 incidents being deemed ‘violent’ by the trade association.
The survey found that the increase was concentrated in a significantly reduced number of stores and retail operations, as many businesses were closed due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
They also occurred while retail workers were on the frontline of the pandemic.
In addition to its impact on people, retail crime cost a total of £1.5bn ($1.8bn), which includes £663m ($835m) incurred by customer theft and £715m ($901m) spent on crime prevention.
In response to these findings, the BRC will partner with Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales to increase awareness of this issue.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “This BRC survey is further confirmation of the scale of the problem retail staff face on a daily basis and back up findings in Usdaw’s latest research.
“Our research found that nine in ten retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence.
“Particularly concerning was the one-third increase in assaults, up from 9% in 2020 to 12% in 2021.
“So, it is extremely worrying that nearly two-thirds said they were not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference.”
In 2020, the BRC launched a pledge that sought to protect shopworkers from violence after finding more than 400 daily incidents of violence and abuse involving retail workers.
Last May, a coalition of more than 30 retail organisations in the UK called on the country’s government to take harsher action against individuals assaulting and attacking shop workers.