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The PRA has joined a coalition from across the retail industry which has launched a campaign urging the public to treat shopworkers with respect.

Trade associations, retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers have launched ShopKind after the reopening of more stores and shops across the country.

Following a rise in abuse of shop workers since the pandemic, the #ShopKind campaign urges the public to be mindful of shopworkers’ essential role in supporting people during these difficult times, and emphasises that they should all treat workers and also other customers with respect, kindness and gratitude.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ 2021 Crime Report, published last month, shows that over the past year there have been more than 1.2million incidents of verbal abuse, and around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores. Of these, more than a quarter involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe, or syringe.

Two-thirds of retailers (65%) had experienced Covid-related threats, with the most common causes of abuse being: reminding customers to wear face coverings, reminding customers of social distancing measures and queueing outside stores.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Throughout the pandemic, shop staff have been the lifeline for many in our communities, and I am grateful for their vital service.

“Violence and abuse towards shop workers is utterly despicable and unacceptable, everyone has the right to feel safe at work.

“As the daughter of shopkeepers, I fully support ShopKind, a reminder to customers to consider their behaviour towards shop staff, and I would encourage all retailers to fully support it.”

Minister for small business, consumers and labour markets Paul Scully said: “Retail workers have played an essential role in supporting communities across the country during the pandemic and have worked tirelessly to put Covid-secure measures in place to keep us all safe.

“Staff in our great shops, pubs, hairdressers and more should be treated with the utmost respect and gratitude – after such a difficult year, we all have a duty to treat each other with kindness.”

Mark Hallas, chief executive of the charity Crimestoppers, said: “It’s truly shocking to think that at a time when we are all so reliant on retail workers to survive during the pandemic, that so many of them are encountering verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis.

“At a time of such national disruption due to Covid-19, shop staff should be appreciated by us all and thanked, not abused. Despite retailers’ vital role in the community, at the frontline, there are a significant minority of people who believe that being courteous and polite isn’t important. Our message today is clear – despite what is going on in anyone’s life, no shop worker deserves to be treated badly, let alone verbally or physically abused, We’re asking everyone to take a step back and think about the true value of these workers – supporting individuals, families and entire communities. So please ShopKind.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers union Usdaw, said: “The final results of Usdaw’s 2020 survey show that 9 in 10 shopworkers had been abused last year. Usdaw is pleased that retailers, the trade union, Government and Crimestoppers have come together to tackle this important issue through the ShopKind campaign. It is clear that retail workers deserve to be treated with respect.

“Retail workers have been on the frontline throughout the coronavirus crisis, ensuring we can remain fed, despite the risks of contracting the virus themselves. We owe these workers a debt of gratitude for their hard work and commitment to our communities. All workers have the right to feel safe and abuse should never be a part of the job. We hope that this campaign will highlight the incredible contributions of retail workers and promote the need for all customers to behave responsibly.”