Riot-hit retailers lost over 7,500 hours of trading and more than 11,000 members of staff were affected by the violence, new evidence has revealed.
According to a survey carried out by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), whose members make up 27% of UK retail sales, thousands of staff now feel vulnerable at work after their stores were looted, damaged or set alight two weeks ago.
British Retail Consortium director of business Tom Ironside said: ‘The thousands of people who work in shops have been the forgotten victims of the riots. The scenes of violence and looting which broke out two weeks ago were frightening even for the majority of us who were watching them on television or reading about them in the papers. To have been in a shop as it was attacked or set on fire must have been terrifying.’
The industry body says this evidence is a reminder that attacks on retailers are not victimless and that the real victims of the riots were retail staff verbally or physically abused.
Ironside added: ‘Strong punishments are appropriate for the perpetrators of this violence to reassure the three million people who work in the retail sector that their safety is taken seriously. It’s sad to hear of retail staff reconsidering their career choice because they feel vulnerable at work.
‘The police have done a great job of finding those responsible for the rioting and have been a reassuring presence on our streets,’ he continued. ‘As damaged buildings are repaired and streets return to normal, shop owners and their staff also need their confidence rebuilt. A strong message must go out that the retail sector, and those who work in it, will be protected.’
The findings will now be submitted to the police to contribute to their impact assessments, which will be used in the trials of alleged offenders.