Customers urged to be patient and kind in new shop posters after workers suffer abuse

SHOPPERS are being urged to be patient and kind in new shop posters after workers suffer abuse.

It comes after research found that violence and abuse against shop workers has doubled during the coronavirus crisis.

Retail staff members have been assaulted, threatened or abused at least once a week on average since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw).

This compares to just once a fortnight last year.

While not all shopworkers suffer to this extent, some experience much worse with one in six being abused on every shift, Usdaw said in April.

The survey came after supermarkets called for police protection in March, over fears panic-buying could lead to rioting.

In June, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also warned shoppers not to abuse staff as shops reopened after the relaxation of lockdown rules.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), which represents 15,000 stores across the UK and Ireland, has now created two posters to help protect its members and encourage customers to shop responsibly.

The first poster appeals to shoppers to respect those working in shops by being “patient, kind and to wear a mask”.

While the second explains why both shop staff and customers should cover up their faces while shopping.

Face masks are currently compulsory in a wide range of places, such aspublic transport, hospitals, shops as well as museums, places of worship and cinemas.

If you don't wear one, you face being slapped with a £200 fine.

The NFRN has created the new posters for its members to display within their stores as coronavirus restrictions increase again.

Last month, the NFRN urged Boris Johnson to provide effective legal protection for shop workers amid rising levels of abuse and violence.

It's also called on Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs committee, to launch an inquiry into retail violence.

Stuart Reddish, its national president, said: "Covid-19 has been challenging for everyone.

"In the main, customers have adhered to the guidelines but some members have experienced hostility and frustration and, sadly, in some instances have even been subject to abuse and threats.

"We hope that by seeing these posters, customers will treat independent retailers and their staff with greater understanding and respect, which means protecting everyone’s health and safety."

Mr Reddish added: “I get calls from hundreds of retailers who are crime victims.

"The impact of retail crime can be devastating and long-lasting – not just in terms of physical injuries but on anxiety and stress too."

Last year, Co-op launched a campaign for stronger protection for shop workers.

It came after figures showed that 115 shop workers are attacked every day, working out as 42,000 violent incidents a year.

In April, the police started an investigation after a mass brawl broke out at a supermarket over coronavirus social distancing rules.

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