The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the UK’s Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) are raising awareness of an increase in violence towards shop workers ahead of Monday’s reopening on non-essential retail.

As per the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, non-essential retail across England and Wales can reopen from Monday 12 April.

The two organisations are asking the public to do their bit to make sure that shopworkers remain safe moving forward after a rise in violence towards retail staff.


With the Government asking shops to implement similar social distancing rules seen throughout the pandemic, it is worried that the violence will continue and that these restrictions are the cause of disputes.

The BRC reported that shop staff have been coughed on, attacked and threatened in the workplace in their efforts to enforce Covid restrictions.

In September, the BRC launched its Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge asking MPs to pledge to tackle retail crime and support legislation to better protect retail workers. 57 MPs from all major parties signed the pledge.

There was also a petition from the public and an open letter from 65 CEOs on the matter late last year.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “The reopening of stores on Monday offers a lifeline for many retailers, which helps to safeguard jobs, but the virus is still out there.

“We expect employers to follow the agreed guidance and ensure that customers are fully informed of the necessary safety measures.

“Shoppers need to play their part in helping to limit the spread of the virus and avoid further lockdowns by following the rules and respecting staff.

“Regrettably, throughout this appalling pandemic, incidents of abuse towards shopworkers doubled.

“It should never be just a part of the job and shopworkers must be respected, we need a ‘protection of shopworkers’ law.

“It has been a terrible year, with Usdaw’s survey finding that nearly 90% of shopworkers suffered abuse and Covid safety measures have now become the significant flashpoints.

“When retailers and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for legislation, it is time for the Government to listen and take retail crime seriously.”

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