Usdaw’s recent success in getting over 100,000 signatures on our parliamentary petition has further highlighted that urgent action is needed. We are therefore pleased that the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee has just launched an inquiry into violence and abuse towards retail workers.

The Committee wants to hear your experiences of abuse, threats and violence in the workplace. This is a rare opportunity for you to be able to voice your concerns directly to parliament. We need as many retail workers as possible to take part in the survey as this will build further pressure on the Government to take action. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey.

The petition can still be signed until 24th Jan 2021 at:  In response to continued growing assaults, threats and abuse against shopworkers and the doubling of such incidents during the coronavirus emergency, Usdaw has launched a House of Commons petition calling on the Government to legislate to protect shopworkers, which has now reached the 100,000 signatures needed to provoke a Parliamentary debate.

Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill promoted by Alex Norris MP (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North) was timetabled for its second reading in the House of Commons, but the Government objected to it progressing and is now delayed until Friday 8 January. 

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that:
  • 88% experienced verbal abuse,
  • 61% were threatened by a customer,
  • 9% were assaulted.
Co-op respect for shopworkers survey:
23 retailers and industry bodies urge PM to act on violence and abuse against shopworkers: ACS, Aldi, Asda, BIRA, Boots, BRC, Central England Co-op, Co-op, Dixons Carphone, Homebase, Lidl GB, Marks and Spencer, Mid Counties Co-operative, McColl’s, Morrisons, Nationwide, NISA, NFRN, Sainsbury’s, Southern Co-op, Street Works UK, Tesco and WH Smith 



Usdaw’s surveys of shopworkers found that on average UK shopworkers were verbally abused, threatened or assaulted every fortnight in 2019, but that average doubled to every week during the Coronavirus emergency.

The survey of 2,232 shopworkers was conducted online and asked the question: ‘What were the main triggers for abuse during the Coronavirus emergency?’ They were able to identify more than one issue and responded:

Enforcing social distancing 68% Queueing to get in store 50% Lack of stock 46% Face Coverings 42% Limiting sales 41% Shoplifting 25% Age restricted sales 17%




Protect Retail Workers from Abuse, Threats and Violence: 

Enact legislation to protect retail workers. This legislation must create a specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker. The offence must carry a penalty that acts as a deterrent and makes clear that abuse of retail workers is unacceptable. Throughout the Coronavirus outbreak, retail workers have been spat at, threatened with infection of Coronavirus and physically assaulted. Since the start of the outbreak, the average retail worker has been assaulted, threatened or abused every 6.5 days, more than double the rate of incidents compared to 2019. Key workers across retail have been undervalued for too long. We need to recognise the valuable contribution of these workers and ensure they are safe whilst undertaking essential work.