Stock shortages could mean more ‘mayhem’ on Black Friday

Fears of festive shortages could mean a busier Black Friday and violence in stores, a trade union boss has warned.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis implored customers to “keep their cool” on the busiest discounting day of the year, noting the “mayhem” of previous years.

Data from the union shows the Black Fridays in 2013 and 2014 prompted a two-thirds increase in abuse, threats and violence against shop workers.

“Christmas shopping has started earlier this year because of customer fears of stock shortages, so that could drive higher footfall in stores this Black Friday,” Lillis said.

READ MORE: Police chief branded ‘out of touch’ on retail violence

“We know that when stores are busy and customers are stressed, things can boil over and shoppers can become abusive or worse.”

“My Black Friday message to shoppers is clear. Enjoy your bargain hunting, keep your cool and respect shopworkers.”

Retail abuse is already high, with a recent Usdaw survey showing 11 per cent of staff had been attacked in the last year.

Supermarkets, trade organisations and the Home Affairs Committee have called for the government to make violence against shop workers a statutory offence.

It has ignored the demands so far, but Work and Pensions minister Thérèse Coffey hinted at a change in policy this month.

“We want to strengthen [employment law] even further, including by introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers,” she wrote in The House.

“Nobody should be the target of violence and harassment simply for doing their job.”

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