The Real Face of Retail Harassment
20 September 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
Let’s face it—the world can be an ugly place when it wants to be. Whether it’s the stress of Christmas shopping or customer service miscommunication, tensions can be heated in a retail environment. In the aftermath of the pandemic, harassment of retail workers has increased astronomically. What has been happening and what support do our retail workers need?
What has been reported?
According to the retail union Usdaw, almost 2,000 retail employees have experienced some form of abuse from customers in the last year, with 92% citing verbal abuse and a further 70% being threatened by a customer. Even while happening in such a public setting, only 4 in 5 employees feel comfortable enough to report incidences of abuse to their employers. A large amount of the reported abuse has stemmed from COVID-19 restrictions, with customers caught shoplifting, refusing to adhere to mandatory distancing or challenging refusal of service. At a time when many have collectively worked together to get through the worst, the new statistics are extremely worrying.
What support is needed?
Many retail workers are now calling for Government support in order to reduce increasing rates. Scotland has recently introduced new legislation to increase the protection of workers, but the UK has yet to follow suit. The Home Office’s current statement claims the behaviour reported is already criminal, and further restrictions wouldn’t help provide retail support. Despite this, the increase in figures cannot be denied. For big name brands, HR departments are being looked at to impose stricter standards of behaviour, whilst also making sure store managers are equipped with necessary security and communication tools. The British Retail Consortium look to be taking the rise seriously, acknowledging the ongoing trauma and fear that can impact workers from just doing their job.
Image source: https://www.drapersonline.com/news/brc-call-for-retail-workers-protection