Black Friday shoppers urged to be kind to retail staff

shopkind this black friday

Shopkind campaign run by the Home Office and CrimeStoppers - Credit: CrimeStoppers

As many shops in East Devon are gearing up for the Black Friday Sale tomorrow (Friday, November 26), the trade union for shopworkers is urging people to keep their cool.

Black Friday events every year see an increase of two thirds in incidents of verbal abuse, threats and violence against staff.

The trade union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers has been working with employers to minimise abuse in recent years, but the union continues to be wary in light of recent increases in incidents.

Usdaw is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in other trades.

A Usdaw’s survey shows 89.26% of retail staff were verbally abused, 64.46% were threatened. 21.59% of shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 10.82% had been assaulted this year alone. 

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Our members have had real concerns about Black Friday. After two years of unprecedented scenes of mayhem in some stores, as bargain hunting turned into a frenzy, we discussed safety issues with retailers. They responded positively by organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike. Consequently, recent years have been quieter and more respectful, but we continue to monitor the situation.

“We are aware that Christmas shopping has started earlier this year because of customer fears of stock shortages, so that could drive higher footfall in stores this Black Friday. We know that when stores are busy and customers are stressed, things can boil over and shoppers can become abusive or worse.

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“Usdaw and retail employers are jointly calling on the Government for additional legal protections to prevent attacks on shopworkers and ensure that violent criminals are prosecuted. Unfortunately, despite cross-party support from MPs and Peers, the Government is yet to back protection of shopworkers legislation across the UK, similar to the new Scottish law that came into force in August.

“My Black Friday message to shoppers is clear. Enjoy your bargain hunting, keep your cool and respect shopworkers.”

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