The growing problem of violence and abuse against retail workers was highlighted to local MP David Davies during a visit to Morrisons in Abergavenny.
Mr Davies was invited to visit the store by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to hear directly from supermarket staff about what they are experiencing daily.
Earlier this year, the BRC’s annual retail crime survey showed incidents of violence and abuse against shop workers rose to 424 per day – with the increased use of weapons such as knives “a worrying trend”.
These incidents are not victimless crimes and are often the result of challenging shoplifters, enforcing age restricted sales or implementing social distancing and other coronavirus safety measures.
Despite record spending by retailers who invested £1.2bn on crime prevention in the last year to make sure their employees are safe, the losses resulting from retail crime and customer theft climbed to £1bn.
It brings the total cost from crime and crime prevention to £2.2bn, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year’s £1.9bn.
There are now industry-wide calls, spearheaded by the BRC’s Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge, for assaults on retail staff to be made a specific criminal offence.
Mr Davies said: “Violent assaults and abuse against retail workers was at an all-time high before coronavirus and, to some extent, has worsened during lockdown.
“These are the individuals, described by the UK Government as ‘Hidden Heroes’, who selflessly put themselves on the frontline during the height of the pandemic to keep the nation fed and supplied with essential items.
“Violence has a serious impact, not only on the people running businesses and working in retail, but also on their colleagues, the families they go home to and the communities they belong to.
“We need to do more to ensure no-one faces violence or abuse in the workplace, and I will support legislation to better protect retail staff in the Monmouth constituency and beyond.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “Every day, hundreds of hardworking retail staff are subjected to violence or abuse in their place of work.
“These incidents leave physical and emotional scars, and affect not only the victim, but also their families, colleagues, and communities. Sadly, existing law, meant to protect these workers, is not fit for purpose, and many of these heinous crimes continue to go unpunished.
“On behalf of the three million people who work in retail, their families and their communities, there is one simple message: doing nothing is not an option.”