Shoppers are being asked to stay calm in shops this Christmas, as new figures reveal that one in every 10 shop workers has been physically assaulted whilst at work.
The latest survey from shop workers’ union Usdaw also shows that 29% of shop workers have experienced verbal abuse in the last month and 32% have been threatened in the last year.
And age-restricted products – such as kitchen knives – are the cause of some of the tension.
“Shop workers are all too often assaulted, threatened and abused in the course of their work,” says Usdaw general secretary John Hannett. “They’re in a pressurised environment, particularly in the run-up to Christmas time, with increased sales and more stressed-out customers. Customers can get very frustrated and they take it out on the shop worker.”
Usdaw has been running events in stores across the UK to urge shoppers to pledge to keep their cool at Christmas. The union also wants more police patrolling the streets and more use of CCTV to protect customers and staff.
Hannett said that one flashpoint for abuse is customers being asked to prove their age: “Usdaw members tell me that they’ve been hit, sworn at and threatened for refusing to serve alcohol and other age-restricted products to a customer.”
Kitchen knives are one such product: it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18.