Retail workers report of abuse and violence over Christmas shopping period

In our opinion, there are two types of people at Christmas – those who have their gifts bought, wrapped and ready weeks or months in advance and those who are dashing to the shops just a few days out in a last-ditch effort to buy most, or even all, of their presents.

Shopping centre giant Stockland has revealed the best and worst of our festive buying habits – including how much we plan to spend (15 per cent expect a presents bill of a whopping $1000 or more), what sort of presents we buy (no surprise there – toys) and when we do our shopping (most people have theirs completed or at least started).

But no matter what and when you’re buying, it can be stressful. You’ve got the parking, or lack there of, trying to manoeuvre through the store displays shoulder to shoulder with other shoppers and not to mention the added pressure of buying the perfect gift for your loved ones.

But today we bring you the even uglier side of it all – the complaints, abuse and even violence hurled at retail workers who are just trying to serve those who venture in to buy their gifts. 

One Maitland worker found a customer waiting in the car park for her after a complaint and worse yet, a bag of cat vomit thrown at her after a product made the customer’s cat sick. So much for the spirit of Christmas.

It’s a hard time for retail workers at the moment. Between the slashing of penalty rates and the decision for shops to open on Boxing Day, there isn’t a whole lot of incentive to work in the industry.

Combine that with having to turn up on the busiest days of the year, be run off your feet,  then cop a mouthful because, in one worker’s words, “the store's sold out of chocolate coated peanuts”, it becomes an even less appealing industry.

Often retail workers are young, new to the workforce and therefore inexperienced – the last thing they need while trying to make a start for themselves is to turn up to their job to be treated like dirt.

But even for those who choose the industry to form their career long-term, no one deserves that kind of treatment.

Retail workers will tell you, treating them badly won’t make them want to help you or rectify your complaints in the future.

This time of year can get the better of us, but there is no excuse to abuse others. In this giving season, maybe what some of us should be giving is a break to retail workers – they’re doing their best.