Scottish shopkeepers have issued a plea for customers to be patient and not take frustrations out on retail workers as Covid-19 protection measures are stepped up.
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), the organisation representing convenience stores, says some shops are likely to have to reintroduce queuing systems to manage enhanced physical distancing as part of the national effort to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
This follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of reinforced measures – including the need for distancing in retail and hospitality – to mitigate the more transmissible strain of the virus.
SGF Head of Policy Dr John Lee said: “Convenience stores have maintained high standards of hygiene and safety throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so
“However, the latest Scottish Government announcement is going to put a huge amount of pressure back on some shop workers – and there may be a need for queuing to control numbers in some stores to ensure people can move around them smoothly and safely.
“Unfortunately this is having to happen at the busiest time of the year for retail – and we understand that some people will be unhappy.
“We are, though, asking shoppers to be patient and not to take their frustrations out on shop staff, who are key workers trying their best to serve their communities while keeping people safe.
“We have sadly seen some shoppers behave unacceptably all too many times during the pandemic. But it is now a crime to abuse a retail worker and we encourage store owners across the country to take a zero-tolerance stance against all crime.
“By showing patience towards retail workers – perhaps allowing some extra time for your shopping – you can help them to help you. The measures in place are there to protect us all and they are simply doing their job.”
The enhanced public health rules were announced as SGF called on shoppers to #SayThanks to retail workers this Christmas for all they do to support those around them.
It is part of an ongoing drive to encourage better behaviour in stores after greater legal powers were introduced to punish those who threaten or abuse shop staff.
SGF is highlighting the measures through it’s Don’t Put Up With It Campaign, which champions the zero-tolerance to trouble message.
And, while it urges retailers to report every crime they witness in their shops, it encourages shoppers to say thank you to those serving them.
Dr Lee added: “This is a challenging time for everyone, but we can make it easier for those shop staff working to support us through it by simply saying thanks to them as you’re served. A little compassion goes a long way.
“Our members are grateful for the loyalty of their customers and want to be there for them. In return, we are asking customers to be respectful. By doing that we will demonstrate that there is no place for trouble in Scotland’s shop.”
The Protection of Workers Act, introduced earlier this year, gives greater protection to shop workers by making it a specific offence to threaten or abuse them. It also provides further legal protections when the worker is carrying out statutory duties such as age verification – a significant trigger for staff facing abuse.
Click here to find out more information about how to get involved in the Don’t Put Up With It campaign.
Anyone who witnesses a crime in a shop is urged to support their local shop staff by sharing information with Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.