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Customers told to respect retail staff as thousands of shops reopen

SHOPWORKERS’ leaders have called on the public to “keep your cool,” follow the rules and respect retail staff after thousands of shops reopened today.

Usdaw feared a rush back to the high street, with only three weeks to go until Christmas, with packed and overcrowded stores leading to abuse of staff.

The union is already running a Freedom from Fear campaign following increasing violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

Usdaw wants legislation making violence against shopworkers a specific offence, similar to laws which exist protecting emergency workers.

General secretary Paddy Lillis said: “The run-up to Christmas is always a really busy time when stores are busy, shoppers can be stressed and things can boil over.

“We are concerned that after a four-week lockdown there could be crowds and chaos on our high streets, with people rushing back to shops that still have necessary Covid safety measures in place and that can result in abuse of shopworkers, or worse.

“During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers have doubled, with the main flashpoints being enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock.

“None of these are the fault of shopworkers, but they too often end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations.

“We urge shoppers to avoid the first few days to help avoid overcrowding, follow the rules, be patient, but most of all ‘keep your cool’ and respect shopworkers.”

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