Shop workers have told of the violence they face as a survey showed almost one in five have suffered an attack.

Usdaw, the retail staff union said the results showed there has been a big rise in incidents in the last year.

It found 18% had suffered a violent attack last year up from 8% in 2022.

Union leaders said the “shocking” findings come with an “epidemic” of retail crime and thefts from stores.

The union said there has been a marked increase since the covid pandemic.

The findings show:

  •  70% have experienced verbal abuse up from 68%.
  •   46% were threatened by a customer up from 43.
  •   18% were assaulted up from 5%.

 Some of the testimonies from workers show the level of abuse and violence faced by staff.

In Greater Glasgow, the comments included one worker stating someone was: “Shouting at me, getting in my face, calling me names, saying I’m useless, swearing, using derogatory female terms.”

Another said: “A pregnant member of staff got assaulted with a solar light.”

Another worker said they were “Attacked in the car park, finishing shift.”

Others in the west of Scotland told of the dangers.

One said they were: “Hit in the face by a drunk man with a basket.”

Another added: “Someone tried to hit me with a bottle.”  

Another said: “Shouted at about queues, items not in stock or wanting a refund on an item that has been used and no receipt.”

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, said: “It is heart-breaking to hear these testimonies from Scottish shopworkers who deserve far more respect than they receive. Our latest survey results clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced by retail staff.

“No-one should feel afraid to go to work, but our evidence shows that too many retail workers are.

“It is shocking that nearly a fifth of our members working in retail are being assaulted for simply doing their job and serving the community. They provide an essential service and deserve our respect and the protection of the law.”

Usdaw said the findings follow similar trends to recent reports from the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores with both finding significant increases in violence and abuse against shopworkers alongside much higher levels of shoplifting.

Lillis added: “Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who are stealing to sell goods on. Our latest survey results show that 7 in 10 retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Theft from shops and armed robbery were triggers for 61% of these incidents.

 “Violence and abuse is not an acceptable part of the job and much more needs to be done to protect shopworkers. We were delighted to have won the campaign for a protection of workers law in the Scottish Parliament, but that is the beginning not the end. We have to ensure that the legislation is central to tackle a growing wave of retail crime and Usdaw looks forward to working with Police Scotland to make that happen.”