Staff abused, shops hit by 400 per cent rise in crime
Retail crime is going through the roof as panic buying ramps up on the back of fears of a virus breakout following last week's Logan cluster.
The National Retail Association (NRA) on Tuesday released its report on the health and wellbeing of Australian retail workers, finding COVID-19 has seen retail workers exposed to assaults, thefts, and physical and verbal abuse.
Retailers have reported a staggering 400 per cent rise in retail crime - including theft and assaults - with 85 per cent of workers experiencing abuse almost daily due to COVID-19.
Queensland is now bracing for another wave of panic buying with shelves stripped of toilet paper and sanitiser in Brisbane's south in recent days, as the NRA reports an increase in areas that have been exposed to COVID-19 such as the Logan area.
NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said there were also concerns around shortages particularly with supply chains interstate.
"At this time it would be pre-emptive to put limits in supermarkets…however where we are seeing this panic buying growing, I imagine some limits are likely to come in," she said.
The association has now called for retail workers to be recognised as frontline essential service workers while recommending law enforcement to have dedicated resources to combat retail crimes.
The report found of those trying to prevent theft in stores, 41 per cent experienced physical abuse, while 78 per cent felt business profitability is affected by having to implement strategies to counter retail theft.
Around 100,000 workers are also experiencing domestic and family violence, with up to 50 per cent of women losing their job because of it, while retailers are also reporting a 200 to 300 per cent increase in drug affected incidents in their stores or precincts.
Ms Lamb said retail workers in regions like Toowong were experiencing an increase in crime, with many staffers having their mental and physical health impacted.
Consumers are also being robbed at ATMs.
Euphora boutique owner Stephanie Economides said retailers were significantly uncertain currently as COVID-19 cases continue to fluctuate.
She said although theft and crime was not as high as usual, she predicted it may get worse in coming months.
"As we get closer to Christmas it makes me wonder if its going to be worse because people definitely won't have as much disposable income," she said.
"We're all freaked out, we're all going through hard times, so everyone needs to be mindful of that, especially if they're thinking of being mean to someone in store."
Originally published as Staff abused, struggling shops hit by 400 per cent rise in crime