Physical violence against retail staff has risen 50% in a year, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual retail crime survey.
The survey also revealed the number of threats of violence has increased by one-third in the past year, and the number of incidents per 100 stores has shot up by 18%.
The annual survey is thought to be the most authoritative measure of retail crime. It drew responses from retail companies trading in a full range of sectors through 10,054 outlets in the UK.
For UK retailing as whole, losses from detected customer theft rose 8.5% from £189m to £205m in a year.
The BRC said many retailers were angry that retail crime was treated so lightly. This had led to under-reporting of incidents, especially among smaller retailers who believe retail crime is not taken seriously by police or the judiciary, the consortium said.
BRC director general Kevin Hawkins said: “Last year shop staff were subjected to around half a million incidents of abuse or violence in their workplaces and retailers clocked up even greater losses to theft. It’s clear the current approach is not working.
“The government and law enforcers must stop believing retail crime as victimless and committed by harmless petty criminals.”
Retail union Usdaw called the figures “unacceptable”. General secretary John Hannett said: “We are pleased the BRC agrees with us that behind these alarming figures there is individual human pain and distress.”