Most retail staff (95%) have been verbally abused and 500,000 suffer abuse every day, a survey by shopworkers’ union Usdaw reveals.
Its members report that serious instances of swearing, sexist comments, homophobic abuse and racist taunts are rising sharply.
The union has launched a campaign, United Against Abuse, to raise awareness of the problem.
Teams across the UK will hand out red cards to the public, reminding shoppers that verbally abusing staff is a form of intimidation suffered by millions of retail workers every year.
“Last year verbal abuse of shop staff shot up by an alarming 35%, so our members are saying: “Enough is enough,” and they will no longer tolerate vile abuse as part of their daily working lives,” said Usdaw general secretary John Hannett.
“The red card is a reminder to the public that if they feel themselves losing control in a shop to take a step back, think about their actions and understand that no situation in a shop, no matter how stressful, gives you the right to verbally abuse a retail worker.”