Survey Shows Increase in Violence and Abuse in the Retail Sector

April 9, 2024
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The latest annual crime survey report released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows a massive increase in violence and abuse as well as customer theft in 2022/23 compared to 2021/22. Some key statistics from the report regarding violence and abuse in the retail sector include:

  • There are over 1,300 violent or abusive incidents towards retail workers a day, up from 870
  • 475,000 incidents of violence and abuse, up from 316,000, including 41,000 violent incidents, equivalent to over 100 a day
  • Only 8% of reported incidents of violence and abuse were prosecuted
  • Only 36% of incidents of violence and abuse were reported to police


The report highlights that those working in retail in front of shops are often in a vulnerable position and may regularly face extreme situations, such as being intimidated or threatened by someone potentially with a weapon and possibly under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Additionally, these workers have to return to work at the same location every day after the incident has occurred. The BRC also points to a failure in police and legal response, with many incidents of abuse and violence not being reported to police as individuals do not feel any action will be taken.


The report calls for the introduction of a standalone offence for a crime of violence or abuse against a shop worker similar to what has been implemented in Scotland with the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-Restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021.


All employers are required to assess work related risks and ensure the safety and welfare of workers, this includes the risk of work related violence.


Some examples of control measures that can be used to reduce the risk of violence include:

  • Arranging the workplace to ensure good visibility
  • Implementing security measures such as CCTV and alarms
  • Using signage to remind customers to respect workers
  • Providing customer facing workers with training including de-escalation techniques
  • Storing alcohol out of the customer’s reach and not behind workers
  • Display posters and signage regarding age-restricted sales
  • Installing high and wide till counters with protective screens
  • Ensure there is good lighting around the shop
  • Installing panic alarms and equipping workers with body cameras
  • Ensuring that there is an appropriate number of staff during busy periods


The most effective measures will depend on your particular circumstances; however, often a combination of measures is required. For help with managing the risks associated with violence and aggression at work, please contact PIB RM.


The BRC is a trade association for retail businesses that aims to drive positive change to help retail businesses succeed. The full BRC crime survey report is available to read for free on the BRC website.


If you have any questions or would like support with managing issues at your workplace, please speak to your usual contact or get in touch using the form below.