Shop worker abuse soars after gaps appear on shelves

The number of grocery workers suffering abuse from customers has soared by 36 per cent thanks to recent stock shortages.

Legal firm Foot Antsey said mistreatment of staff was already widespread during the Covid-19 pandemic, but has increased since shops began running low on products.

It comes as industry bosses issued fresh warnings of wine and turkey shortages by Christmas.

In a survey of 1048 employees, Foot Antsey found 95 per cent had noticed more verbal harassment since the start of the pandemic.

READ MORE: 92% of shop workers have experienced verbal abuse, survey finds

A further one in five saw more physical harassment at work, while one in twenty saw more sexual harassment.

Shop workers said the main causes of confrontation were masks (57 per cent), social distancing (45 per cent), and limits on customer numbers in store (38 per cent).

Foot Antsey partner Nathan Peacey said it painted an “unpleasant picture” of grocery work during the pandemic.

“Retail workers told us they felt there were not enough laws in place to protect them,” he continued.

“It is essential that existing laws are enforced, or new ones brought in, to support… those on the retail frontline.”

Retailers, unions, trade bodies and politicians have long demanded that ministers make abuse of grocery staff a statutory offence.

In June, the Home Affairs Committee concluded that shop workers, like emergency workers, should have “extra protection from the law”.

However, the government argues they are already protected by existing legislation.

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