By Max Clarke

The disturbances that tore through English cities a fortnight ago lost retailers an estimated 7,500 working hours, affecting some 11,000 individuals.

This is according to research carried out by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), whose members make up some 27% of the UK total, suggesting the full number may be much higher.

The BRC’s research is being submitted to the relevant police forces to contribute to their impact assessments, which will be used in the trials of alleged offenders. It also gathered anecdotal evidence of the impact on retail staff.

"There was fear of coming to work and not being able to get to work,” said one retailer affected by the violence. “Two colleagues were mugged and assaulted on their way home. Colleagues were in store when looters hit."

The Consortium says this evidence is a reminder that attacks on retailers are not victimless. Thousands of people who were just doing their jobs were subjected to verbal and even physical assault and now feel vulnerable at
work.

"The thousands of people who work in shops have been the forgotten victims of the riots,” said British Retail Consortium Director of Business, Tom Ironside. “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.”

"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. 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."


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