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Big jump in abuse of retail workers

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Retail workers are copping a big rise in customer abuse driven by panic buying during the pandemic, new research has found.

Retail workers are copping a big rise in customer abuse driven by panic buying during the pandemic, new research has found.

The National Retail Association (NRA) report revealed more than 85 per cent of workers claim they're being abused verbally or physically on an almost-daily basis.

And retailers reported a staggering 400 per cent increase in aggression and abuse following customer anger at restrictions.

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Incidents include violence and theft as stores, particularly supermarkets, experience a surge panic buying caused by the pandemic.

NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb, said some customer anger at the government restrictions imposed to help stem the spread of coronavirus is behind much of the abuse.

"Many business owners have been forced to employ security guards and crowd controllers to ensure social distancing measures are followed," she said.

The report revealed the need to address problems affecting retail workers, such as customer abuse, retail crime, domestic and family violence and poor lifestyle choices.

Ms Lamb said Australia's 1.5 million retail workers have been at the frontline of the pandemic, confronting increased risk, stress and abuse, and that they should be classified as frontline essential workers.

"We'd like to see the government recognise retailers as an essential frontline service and implement a 'retail resilience program' to educate workers on how to cope during the pandemic," she said.

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Police Officers watch as people queue for a delivery of toilet paper, paper towel and pasta at Coles Supermarket, in Sydney during March, 2020.

"Areas that require urgent attention include mental health issues, high smoking rates and exposure to violent crime at work."

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Ms Lamb said NRA members are reporting high levels of stress and anxiety leading to mental health issues and an increase in poor lifestyle choices such as smoking.

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians.

Visit the site here or call 1800512348For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News

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