There has been a ‘concerning spike’ in the number of violent incidents against retail staff, according to a survey by British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The trade body’s Retail Crime Survey found the rate of incidents of violence with injury has doubled since the previous year to six per 1,000 members of staff.
The biggest concern comes from the growth in severe violent incidents against staff. BRC members reported that career criminals intentionally use violence and abuse when challenged over stealing. Furthermore, age-check and the refusal of sales is also leading to the increase of violence and threats.
In other areas of crime, the cost of fraud to retailers has fallen by nearly £30m, as a result of significant investment in prevention.
However, the total direct financial cost of retail crime has increased to £700m up 6% from the previous year. ‘Customer theft’ remains the largest element, costing retailers over half a billion pounds per year, a 15% increase on the previous results.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Retail already faces its own challenges, with margins shrinking, and against that backdrop the pressures that retail crime exerts are having a stronger impact. That is why we are working to build a new model for co-operation around tackling retail crime, and encourage decision-makers throughout the country to apply the priority these issues deserve.
“In particular, the figures on violence present a deeply concerning picture. Attacks on retail workers are intolerable, and our members are completely clear that keeping their staff safe and providing an environment in which they can work free of fear from threats and violence, is their first priority.
She added: “Retailers are doing everything possible to ensure that staff members and customers are safe and protected. But they are now spending record amounts on crime prevention, which is a drag on the economic viability of shops and not infinitely sustainable. A new approach is required.”