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Wednesday, 18th November 2020

Aggressive and threatening behaviour a daily occurrence at convenience stores

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Vincent Jennings, CEO, CSNA and Marcella O’Neill, Chair of the National Executive Security Committee, CSNA. Photo: Patrick Browne.

There has been much talk of the dedication and brilliant work of the “frontline workers” in the health services as they grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and rightly so, it’s all well deserved.

But spare a thought also for the workers and proprietors at convenience stores and newsagents who have been open throughout the pandemic and working long and hard hours to keep people in their locality supplied with the basics of life.

Sadly though, despite the fact that they are providing an essential service, the shopkeepers are also having to deal with aggressive, violent and threatening behaviour, verbal abuse and shoplifting.

That’s according to  a report issued today by the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) which represents over 1,500 convenience store owners, forecourt operators and newsagents.

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In a survey they conducted in August 80% of the retailers surveyed reported that they or a member of their staff had experienced aggressive, violent and threatening behaviour within the previous three months.

Furthermore, 58% of those surveyed or their staff are subjected to verbal abuse on a weekly basis with as many as 23% enduring it on a daily basis in their stores.

Retailers surveyed stated that triggers for violence include confronting shoplifters, refusing to serve and enforcing age restrictions. While 90% of those surveyed suggested that the people perpetrating these unlawful acts are repeat offenders.

The most common shoplifted items included alcohol, confectionery, toiletries and meat.

Vincent Jennings, CEO of CSNA commented, “This isn’t just about our members, it also represents the many thousands of staff that work in our convenience stores, forecourts and newsagents nationwide. We are at the coalface of this persistent risk and intolerable behaviour, many on a daily basis. It is simply not acceptable, not for our members and certainly not for their valued employees.”

“It is without question, the pandemic has people on edge and acting irrationally in some instances, however the issues outlined in this report are not specifically COVID-19 related and are unfortunately with us on a daily basis.”

CSNA is calling on elected representatives, An Garda Síochána and the judiciary for stronger legislation and greater enforcement within the retail sector. The retail industry is worth over €7 billion to the exchequer, employing almost 285,000 people, over 72% of whom are outside of the Dublin area providing key services all over the country.

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