There are many unsung heroines and heroes of this pandemic, including the people who have kept our country moving, kept us supplied and kept our communities safe. On that list are the army of shopworkers who have kept us fed, managed the shortages and managed social distancing. With more online shopping than ever before it may well be that the Christmas rush proves less frantic than usual but too many shopworkers may still take the brunt of customer frustration. The Shopworkers union USDAW’s annual Freedom From Fear Survey shows around two thirds of shopworkers report are verbally abused and half being threatened. Those numbers are up by a quarter since last year. The Association of Convenience Stores gives a similar picture with over 50,000 incidents in local shops. The ACS also reports on some of the challenges facing local stores with more than 8000 burglaries and over a million shop thefts. Crimes like shoplifting don’t just cost shop owners they cost us all adding an estimated 7p crime tax to every transaction. As the ACS conclude “it’s not part of the job”.
A number of Crime Commissioners including Northumbria’s Kim McGuinness are determined to tackle shop theft and support the retail sector. The Government seems less so, preferring warm words and rejecting the recent Protection of Shopworkers Bill. Shopworkers face long hours Christmas and for some there is the prospect of retail job losses in the New Year. We all need to show them respect however stressed we feel and when the shopping is done say thanks to shopworkers. They deserve it.