Morrisons promotions aisle

Although most staff haven’t experienced direct abuse, there have been reports of customers behaving aggressively and “shouting in frustration” while shopping 

One quarter of supermarket workers say they’ve experienced abuse since the coronavirus outbreak began. 

A new report by Shepper found that staff within 26% of the 500 UK supermarkets surveyed had experienced incidences of abuse from customers during the pandemic.

While the majority of stores (56%) said they had not experienced direct abuse, staff did provide examples of customers behaving aggressively and “shouting in frustration” while shopping.  

“Shop floor supermarket employees have been critical to our society during this challenging time, they are heroes in their own right, working on the frontline despite the risks, to help the nation,” sais Shepper co-founder Jan Vanhoutte.

”Whilst it’s upsetting to learn that this abuse is so prevalent, we’re glad to have highlighted the issue so that supermarkets can take action to help their staff further. We also hope our insights will encourage the wider public to be more mindful of how we treat those who are doing so much for our country.” Jan Vanhoutte, Co-founder at Shepper.

The British Retail Consortium advised that retailers should continue working with the police to protect their staff during these incidences. 

“Retail staff all across the country have done a heroic job is ensuring we can get the essential items we need. Despite carrying out this crucial job in the most challenging circumstances, hardworking staff are still subject to violence and abuse,” said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson.

“Any forms of this behaviour will not be tolerated and retailers will continue to work with the police to protect their staff and customers. The BRC is calling for tougher sentences for people who assault retail workers as no one should have to go to work fearing violence or threats.”

The research, which included Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi stores found that experience of abuse was prevalent across all of the retailers surveyed, although Aldi staff reported the highest percentage of abuse. 

“This is an important issue for the industry and one we take extremely seriously,” said an Aldi spokeswoman. 

“Over the past few months, our colleagues have worked tirelessly to help feed the nation and we have comprehensive measures in place to protect and support our store teams.”