Why four out of five retail workers expect to be abused over Easter

A sharp increase in customers abusing supermarket staff ahead of closures on religious holidays leaves workers in “fear they will be mistreated” by members of the public, a union survey has found.

Mar 28, 2024, updated Mar 28, 2024
Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

A record high of more than 80 per cent of retail workers experience verbal abuse on their shifts, the survey found.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) national secretary Gerard Dwyer said it was not fair that some customers inflict harm on supermarket workers.

“No one deserves to fear that they’ll be abused for simply going to work,” he said.

“We wish we didn’t have to remind the public of this every year, but the numbers on customer abuse tell us that we do.”

Workers’ wellbeing is often threatened, with 63 per cent of survey participants saying they had suffered physical or mental health impacts as a result of customer abuse and violence.

The closure of supermarkets on religious holidays such as Good Friday and Easter Sunday cause last shoppers to rush to stores in a panic.

Customers scrambling to get their shopping done in busy shopping centres and reduced business hours may end up taking their frustrations out on workers, Mr Dwyer said.

“”The closure of supermarkets on Good Friday makes days like today incredibly busy and we often see a sharp increase in customers abusing supermarket staff,” he said.

“It’s not fair that ahead of what is meant to be a peaceful long weekend, workers fear they will be mistreated by members of the public.”

More than 4600 workers participated in the SDA survey in 2023.

Cost of living pressures have only added fuel to the fire, the SDA warns, and it is imperative that people remain respectful to workers who are “just doing their jobs.”

Increasing costs in supermarkets have been widely criticised by the general public in recent months leading up to Easter shopping.

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