VIOLENCE against retail workers resulting in injury has doubled in a year to the equivalent of 13 people harmed every day, according to new figures.

Although retailers saw an overall fall in violence and abuse, the rate of more serious cases doubled to six per 1,000 workers, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey.

The BRC said there were some encouraging trends, with the cost of fraud falling by nearly £30 million this year.

However, the total overall cost of retail crime is now more than £700 million each year, a 6% increase in 12 months.

Meanwhile, the direct cost of customer theft has grown by £65 million or nearly 15%, or nearly three quarters of the total cost of retail crime – while the direct cost of fraud has fallen by £27 million, or just under 15%.

On average, retailers this year spent around the same on non-cyber crime prevention in 12 weeks as they did in the whole of the previous year.

Burglary of retail premises grew by 21% since last year’s survey, while employee theft rose by 36% over the same period.

Overall among retailers and their employees, around half see police response to crime they report as poor, and 45% ranked it as fair.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The industry is going through a period of unprecedented structural change with increasing cost pressures, and these challenges have heightened the impact retail crime has on jobs, communities and people throughout the UK.

“Our members are fully playing their part in tackling retail crime, spending in 12 weeks on crime prevention what they did for the whole of the previous year. But that level of spending may not be viable in the longer-term.

“This year’s survey sets out the need for retail crime in all its forms to be given the focus it deserves, and we ask Police and Crime Commissioners and others to work with us to do that.”

Commenting on the findings, Sara Jones, head of policy at the Welsh Retail Consortium said: “Violent or abusive behaviour towards shop staff in Wales is wholly and utterly unacceptable. Retail workers should be able to work free from fear of violence, intimidation or abuse. Worryingly this new data suggests incidents of violence which lead to injury is a growing problem despite retailers investing considerable time and resources in protecting and training their colleagues.

“Many of these more severe incidents and crimes are thought to be linked to purchases of government-licenced and age-restricted products or shoplifting. This is a serious issue and we want to see perpetrators dealt with firmly.  Theft from shops and retailers is far from being a victimless crime. It hampers retailers' ability to service their customers and means less money is available for improving the business including staff training, better pay or premises refurbishment."