“He told me he would change my face for me” - Shop workers see rise in abuse in lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Shop staff in Norfolk have described the verbal and physical abuse from customers because of Covid.
More than 1,000 store workers across the eastern region have been physically threated by shoppers in lockdown. One in Suffolk said: “I politely informed a customer who was trying to take 24 tins of tomatoes that he could only have two and he told me he would ‘change my face for me.’”
Many are reporting customers not adhering to Covid restrictions – putting them at risk of catching the virus.
One Norfolk shop worker said: “I have had several customers lean over me when I’ve been replenishing shelves. They do not seem to realise that us shop floor workers are putting our health (and lives) at risk just to provide them with a service. It is terrifying.”
Another in Suffolk said: “A customer handed me a newspaper coupon which he’d been holding in his mouth.”
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The reports come as retail trade union Usdaw, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, backed ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ this week to raise public awareness of violence, threats and abuse against retail staff.
Results from its ‘Freedom from Fear’ survey of more than 2,000 retail staff showed so far this year:
- 1 Workmen unearth six skeletons during city street overhaul
- 2 Parts of Norfolk see heavy snow falls with more to come
- 3 9 Norfolk pubs with heated gardens for mixed households
- 4 Man denies running Japanese restaurant from Norwich home for the third time
- 5 School forced to close for Christmas early due to Covid cases
- 6 Busy petrol station on A140 closes due to 'unforeseen circumstances'
- 7 Shocking dashcam footage shows man doing 129mph through village
- 8 Heavy rain prompts flood warnings as first snow forecast to fall
- 9 Vanishing village - Satellite images show incredible erosion at Winterton
- 10 Farm shop expands after huge lockdown sales boom
*76pc say abuse has been worse than normal during the Covid-19 pandemic
*85pc have experienced verbal abuse
*57pc were threatened by a customer
*9pc were assaulted
Other reports from workers from other regions include being punched in the face, being intentionally coughed on, spat at and having a ’trolley overturned on me.’
The campaign is backed by the Co-op which recorded 279 crimes and 10 major incidents nationwide since July. These ranged from colleagues being slashed or threatened with knives to others being hospitalised after being attacked by shoplifters.
Overall, this year, verbal abuse has jumped by 175%, assaults by 34% and threats by 12% compared to 2019, it stated.
Recently a shop worker in a Norfolk Central England Co-op punched a protective plastic screen because restrictions had been placed on lottery ticket purchases.
Co-op staff at a Norfolk shop were also spat at while marshalling social distancing queues because of the length of time it was taking to get inside.