A shop owner in his shop
According to the charity, Retail Trust, one-third of retail workers said that they are victims of customer abuse on a weekly basis. Susannah Ireland/AFP

According to the latest report on Cost of Living Insights, published by the Office for National Statistics in October this year, the cost of living crisis has increased the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages by 10.1 per cent.

With more than four in 10 adults admitting that they are spending more than usual on their weekly food shop, UK retailers have been witnessing an influx of shoplifting and threats against staff members.

Companies, including Aldi and Tesco, have since implemented body-worn cameras amongst their workers in stores, but bosses have repeatedly called on the authorities to take the crimes more seriously.

In response to the lack of police action, the Retail Trust interviewed a number of shop workers from 200 companies across the UK.

After speaking to more than 1,600 staff members who work for well-known retailers like Tesco, H&M and the Co-op, Retail Trust found that a staggering 90 per cent of retail workers have experienced customer abuse.

The forms of abuse include physical assault, abusive language, shouting, insults and threats.

On Monday this week, the Co-op also announced that it had recorded 300,000 incidents of shoplifting, abuse, violence and anti-social behaviour directed at staff members this year.

In the 3,000 cases that were deemed the most serious, Co-op said that the police had failed to tend to the scene.

Paul Gerrard, the Director of Public Affairs at the Co-op, told reporters that his workers were witnessing "individuals and organised gangs coming in to take out the entire meat section, the entire spirit section, the entire household cleaning section".

"Those kinds of individuals will stop at nothing," Gerrard added.

According to the charity, the Retail Trust, one-third of retail workers said that they are victims of customer abuse on a weekly basis.

As the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis continue, 14 per cent of the retail workers reported that they are verbally or physically abused by customers up to three times a week.

Chris Brook Carter, the Chief Executive of the Retail Trust, declared: "Thousands of shop workers are contacting us to say they now fear for their safety, and this is simply unacceptable.'

"We are very concerned," he added.

The Retail Trust is currently campaigning for higher priority police responses to shop incidents, after more than half, 62 per cent, of retail workers claimed that they would like to see harsher penalties put towards customer abuse.

In an open letter to the government, organised by the Institute of Customer Service, several MPs and more than 50 businesses urged the authorities to crack down on shop staff abusers.

The businesses quoted in the open letter included the Post Office and John Lewis.

"One person told us they were hit around the head by a shoplifter with a metal basket, another was knocked out cold by an angry customer, and this is on top of the vile insults and threats handed out on an all-too-regular basis," Carter revealed.

Moses, a Department Store Manager, told the Retail Trust that a customer had hit him in the head with a metal basked after he had asked them to leave the shop.

The 42-year-old said that the customer had previously been banned from the shop. The assault resulted in Moses getting stitches in his head at an A&E department.

Kirsty, a Customer Advisor who works for a hardware store, told the Retail Trust that a customer threatened her, saying: "I will slam your face through the desk."

The dispute between Kirsty and the customer resulted in the 34-year-old being punched in the face.

In regard to the future safety of retail workers, Carter demanded that the UK "must get better at bringing an end to this terrible behaviour" as well as "ensuring that our colleagues across the country get the protection and support they need".