08 September, 2022
One of the most worrying crime trends in recent years has been escalating incidents of violence against retail staff. Violent attacks against convenience store workers and other retail staff have increased more than six-fold in the last five years, equal to 100 violent attacks every single day in the UK. Weapons like machetes, knives and blades are often wielded.
Retail workers on the front lines of customer service often find themselves bearing the brunt of abusive behaviour and must conduct their duties under the constant threat of physical violence, affecting their well-being. Nine out of ten shop workers experienced abuse in 2021, while more than 40,000 violent incidents against people working in convenience stores were reported. One in every four of these incidents involved a weapon.
Studies conducted in the UK found that retail workers suffered disproportionately high levels of anxiety and depression due to these working conditions, impacting job performance and customer service levels.
Convenience stores must consider implementing crime deterrents and physical barriers between staff and customers that create a sense of well-being and demonstrate a suitable level of care and concern for workers.
Convenience store attacks can range from aggressive customers using abusive language or physical violence to premeditated armed robberies. In studies completed during Covid-19, 63% of retail staff members felt unsafe during their shift because of aggressive customers.
These incidents also impact the broader workforce. Staff members, even those not on duty during an incident, may feel nervous about working in the store, especially late at night. This sentiment can quickly spread through the entire organisation. In 2018, more than six thousand Co-op workers submitted a petition protesting one-on-one shifts due to safety concerns, following attacks on stores. More than 95% of surveyed workers stated that they felt extremely unsafe during their shifts, urging their employer to take action. As a result Co-op launched the “Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities” campaign to encourage MPs to take violence against shop workers seriously.
The fall-out of a convenience store attack on staff – whether directly or indirectly involved in an attack – is hard to measure. Research has shown that there could be a long-term effect on staff’s mental health and well-being.
After facing a convenience store attack, the staff members involved might suffer from trauma, PTSD, depression or anxiety because of what they’ve experienced. Even staff who have only heard about the incident could experience anxiety about coming in to complete a shift in case the same thing happens again.
When staff feel safe in their jobs, they’re more likely to perform better, which directly impacts profits and customer service. There are several ways in which safer environments can impact the well-being of staff:
Staff who feel safe at work will have higher confidence levels and better mental well-being. Keeping high-value goods behind a counter can result in grab-and-dash attacks that can leave workers on edge. Placing a physical barrier between a customer and those goods provide physical protection and reduce the risk of these burglaries.
Staff that feel fundamentally unsafe and unhappy will not perform as well as the staff who feel secure and confident in their environments. Improving safety can have a direct and meaningful impact on customer service.
Safetell provides a range of security services that can deter crime and boost staff well-being in convenience stores. When staff members feel safe, they have higher confidence and mental well-being levels. Safetell products include physical security items like security doors, screens and counters, and walling and partitioning products
Retail staff are at the front line of customer service and regularly face physical violence at work.
Staff mental well-being can be severely impacted by convenience store attacks, which can have long-lasting effects on staff morale and customer service levels. The best way to tackle it is to improve security measures in-store to provide staff with the reassurance that they’ve got support when an attack happens.
There’s no better investment than security products to help staff feel safe and confident at work.