We are teaming up with fellow retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers to launch a new and timely campaign urging the public to ShopKind after the reopening of more stores and shops across the country.
The #ShopKind campaign urges the public to be mindful of shopworkers’ essential role in supporting people during these difficult times, and emphasises that we should all treat workers and also other customers with respect, kindness and gratitude.
The campaign is backed by the Home Office and supported by fellow major high street retailers as well as the nation’s independent shopkeepers, and the shopworkers Union Usdaw.
Our most up to date figures show that, in the last 12 months, incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167%, anti-social behaviour by 39%, assaults by 35% and threats by 16% compared to 2019 in our stores.
We have also recorded 312 crimes related directly to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Craig Goldie, Loss Prevention Manager, said: “Our teams have gone above and beyond over the last 12 months to ensure our communities have access to vital food and essentials, only to be greeted with shocking incidents like those we have seen in recent months.
“We want to send a clear message to anyone who might be thinking of committing a crime at one of our stores - this behaviour will not be tolerated and targeting our stores is not worth the risk.
“We need everyone to be kind and treat our colleagues with care, compassion and respect as they work around the clock for our communities. We want people to think long and hard about the person wearing our uniform – they will be someone’s much loved family member.
“We want people to ask themselves whether they would like their relatives to be confronted by someone in a violent or aggressive way, especially at this uncertain time – the answer is no, and therefore why should anyone who works in retail have to deal with this kind of behaviour.
“Everyone at Central England Co-op is proud to live and work in our local communities – now we need people to work with us to make sure our stores and the people in them are safe for everyone.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Throughout the pandemic, shop staff have been the lifeline for many in our communities, and I am grateful for their vital service.
“Violence and abuse towards shop workers is utterly despicable and unacceptable, everyone has the right to feel safe at work.
“As the daughter of shopkeepers, I fully support ShopKind, a reminder to customers to consider their behaviour towards shop staff, and I would encourage all retailers to fully support it.”
James Lowman, Chief Executive at the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “Convenience stores have been open throughout the pandemic, keeping communities going and being first to adapt to keep customers and colleagues safe through Covid secure measures.
"While the majority of customers have been incredibly supportive and embody the messages of the ShopKind campaign, there are still too many people being abusive and violent to retailers and their colleagues.
"We fully support ShopKind, which serves as an important reminder of the essential work that convenience stores have done over the last year and continue to do to as the rest of retail reopens.”