Nearly 90% of shop workers subject to abuse, survey reveals

    Abuse against retail staff rising due to new COVID restrictions

      • Sector News
    • 04.06.21

    A recent Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association survey of 2,300 retail workers revealed that nearly 90 percent of staff have been subject to verbal abuse, with over 20 percent of respondents being coughed or spat on during COVID-19.

    Retail workers are often the target of abuse as customers become disgruntled and enraged with new government regulations and having their ‘freedom’ taken away. 

    This is likely to increase with the implementation of new restrictions, such as those implemented in Victoria at the beginning of June, which require customers to register their details at all retail stores and supermarkets.

    Dominique Lamb, CEO at the National Retail Association says:

    Retailers are doing everything within their power to accommodate for the changing regulations, and that responses such as abuse, and violence are only contributing to a tense environment.

    Customers must treat retail workers with the respect they deserve, even if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by things.

    It is an anxious time, but we ask that shoppers be patient as retail staff do their best in difficult circumstances. We ask that police have a strong presence around shopping centres to enforce civility and to deal with anyone being physically or verbally abusive.

    National Retail Association: Customer abuse remains a disturbing reality for retail workers
    National Retail Association: COVID lockdowns are not an excuse for abuse
    National Retail Association: Mandatory Victoria QR code check-in rules

    Maybo perspective

    Retail and hospitality workers have experienced increasing levels of violence in recent years and ‘COVID Conflict’ has taken this to new heights.

    There is only so much staff can be expected to do, and care is needed even when simply asking a customer to comply with government restrictions as situations can escalate quickly.

    Maybo training programmes equip staff to deal with potential conflict flashpoints, such as restrictions, at the level expected for their role. We also provide support on policy and guidance.

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