The annual ‘Freedom from Fear’ survey of Usdaw revealed that around two-thirds of shop workers have experienced verbal abuse and 41 per cent were threatened by a customer.


AN AVERAGE shop worker in the UK is verbally abused, threatened or assaulted more than 21 times a year, which is nearly once a fortnight, shows the latest annual survey by the shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw.

The union has launched its ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ on Monday (11) to highlight the issue.

The annual ‘Freedom from Fear’ survey of Usdaw revealed that around two-thirds of shop workers have experienced verbal abuse and 41 per cent were threatened by a customer.

“Refused customer alcohol as they were drunk, they tried to grab my hair and grabbed hold of my shirt,” a respondent told the survey.

Nearly five per cent said they were assaulted, which amounts to around 400 assaults every day across all shop workers.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, said: “The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. Many UK workers are on the frontline of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault”.

As part of the annual respect week, November 11-17, the union’s representatives and members will organise awareness events.

“This week our members are out campaigning on high streets, in shopping centres and stores; talking to the public and asking them to ‘keep their cool and respect shop workers’. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law,” Lillis added.

He also reiterated the calls for stiffer penalties for those who assault shop workers and a new specific offence to deal with retail crime.