Staff in three out of every 10 independent stores have been violently attacked at work, a survey for The Grocer has revealed.

The panel of 250 retailers revealed that 35% have had to restrain a member of the public for threatening or violent behaviour, while 15% keep a weapon at work to protect themselves.

One independent, who did not want to be named, said he had carried a truncheon for 20 years but had never used it. “I think it’s a natural instinct for people to have a weapon,” he said. “It gives you a sense of ­security to have something to protect yourself with just in case.”

Nearly half of the retailers surveyed said they provided training for staff to cope with violent members of the public.