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Retailers across the board are urging customers to ‘ShopKind’ as the nation returns to the high street.

The Home Office, Crimestoppers, trade bodies and a host of UK retailers launched the campaign today, asking the public to be mindful of the essential role shopworkers have played during the coronavirus crisis.

It aims to encourage respect, kindness and gratitude to both shopworkers and customers, following the rising tide of abuse retail staff have faced over the past year. 

The #ShopKind campaign is also being backed by shopworkers union Usdaw, independent shopkeepers, major high street retailers, the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium.

Convenience retailers also took social media today to show their support for the campaign.

“No one should have to face violence and abuse just for doing their job, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of shopworkers who work tirelessly within communities – they deserve thanks, not abuse, threats and violence,” said Co-op director of campaigns and public affairs Paul Gerrard.

Southern Co-op CEO Mark Smith said: “Despite our colleagues going above and beyond to serve our customers and communities during the pandemic, they have still had to suffer verbal abuse, threats and violent attacks.

“We had nearly 18,000 reports of crime at our 201 stores in 2020 – an increase of 25% from 2019. This is unacceptable and must stop.

“While we continue to invest in and take action to protect our colleagues, the ShopKind campaign raises the public profile of this issue and is a positive message of support for retail workers across the country.”

Tesco Convenience MD Kevin Tindall said: “Our colleagues and those across retail work hard to serve customers every day and the vast majority of customers are very appreciative.

“Our stores should be safe places to work and shop and any form of antisocial behaviour is unacceptable. New security measures, currently being rolled out to our stores, are already having a positive impact.”

It comes as the ACS 2021 Crime Report showed that over the past year, there had been over 1.2 million incidents of verbal abuse, and around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores.

Of these, more than a quarter involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe or syringe.

Two-thirds of retailers had experienced Covid-related threats, with the most common causes of abuse being: reminding customers to wear face coverings, reminding customers of social distancing measures and queueing outside stores.

ACS CEO James Lowman 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.”

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 shopworkers 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.”

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