Shop workers are facing almost 300 assaults every day, ranging from attacks by drunks to being injured trying to tackle shoplifters, a new study suggests.
Research by the shop workers' union USDAW indicated that one in eight had been assaulted, while many more faced verbal abuse or threats.
Two thirds of the 6,700 shop workers surveyed said they were verbally abused last year, two out of five were threatened and 12 per cent had been assaulted during their career.
Doug Russell, the Health and Safety Officer at USDAW has said that people do not go to work in a shop “expecting to face abuse”.
He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “People don’t go to work in a shop expecting to face abuse. You might expect that in the prison system or in the police. Shop workers are serving the public.
“Small shops are definitely more at risk because of staffing levels but it could happen in any store.
“We need to build stronger relationships with the police to manage the more awkward people more effectively.”
Mr Russell argued against shop workers “fighting back” against assaults.
“Fighting back is not the most sensible thing to do in these circumstances,” he said.
“It is better to cooperate with the robbery and get them out of the store as quickly as possible.
“It is not just theft that is the problem because the other big cause of the aggression is selling underage products and having to challenge people if they might be underage.”