Chesterfield shopkeepers describe “daily” abusive rants during pandemic

Chesterfield shopkeepers have spoken out in support of plans for better legal protection against abuse from customers - with many reporting an increase during the pandemic

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:35 pm

Workers and managers at corner shops around the town told Derbyshire Times how abusive shoppers had thrown foul-mouthed rants at them when reminded to wear masks.

While others, frustrated by long queues due to social distancing, resorted to “smacking” plastic safety screens demanding faster service.

Their comments came as this week Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman spoke out in a House of Commons debate after more than 100,000 people signed an e-petition demanding greater legal protection for the retail sector.

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Workers and managers at corner shops around the town told Derbyshire Times how abusive shoppers had thrown foul-mouthed rants at them

MPs heard how the enforcement of rules on social distancing and face masks in the pandemic had led to a sharp increase in the number of threatening – or violent – incidents.

Dawn Collins, a retail worker at Nisa Local in Old Whittington, described incidents related to mask-wearing “on a daily basis”.

She said: “We get people coming in with no mask and when they’re asked to buy one for 50p they say ‘I’m not f****** wearing a mask or they suddenly say they’re exempt.

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“There was a guy the other day who was very aggressive, right in my face. We had to ask him to leave.

“We have to wear them seven hours a day so if they can’t, there’s something wrong.”

Robert Godfrey, manager at Derby Road’s Premier Store, described MP Barry Sheerman’s campaign as “a great idea”.

Manager Robert told how he had noticed a “general state of anxiety” due to the pandemic which culminated in one “smacking the safety screen” at the till after a long wait.

He said: “We’re here to do a service and hopefully make people’s lives a little easier - we’re not here to be given abuse.”

Kam Sall, of Sall’s Convenience Store in Newbold, also backed the plans, saying “during the pandemic local shopkeepers have done so much".

He added: “They’ve risked themselves and their staff to help the local community but they don’t get much appreciation.”

Kam, who has worked at the family store for over 20 years, reported taking verbal abuse when warning some shoppers to wear a mask.

He said: “When masks started to be enforced I think people tended to ignore it a bit in small shops.”

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