‘Vulnerable, scared’: Most US in-store retail workers feel unsafe on the job

(Source: Bigstock)

Retail workers in the US face increased vulnerability due to industry-wide security concerns and labour shortages, according to a survey by Theatro.

The 2024 Retail Worker Safety Survey interviewed 600 in-store retail workers aged 18 and above in the top 15 metropolitan areas in the US.

It revealed that 80 per cent of retail workers feel scared daily as they start their shifts, with 72 per cent having experienced incidents in which staff couldn’t respond to a threat “due to understaffing”.

The labour shortage has further intensified this safety crisis, adding to workers’ stress and pressure. The survey found that 62 per cent of employees feel ill-equipped to handle difficult situations, and only 51 per cent rate their store’s security technology as moderately effective.

Retail workers expressed feeling unsupported by management in navigating frontline pressures and observed gaps in safety measures.

They also believe their stores would be safer if leadership requested feedback from them, with 23 per cent stating they had yet to be involved in any capacity in safety and security planning for their store. 

In response to these findings, Theatro urges retail businesses to prioritise training, proactively communicate with their staff, and audit communication solutions and processes to address the concerns raised by the survey.

Failure to do so could lead to a potential mass exodus of workers, with 73 per cent of retail workers considering leaving their jobs and 64 per cent open to suing their employer over a store crime incident.

Chriss Todd, CEO of Theatro, remarked that the survey exposes the dangers frontline employees face daily. 

“Ensuring employees feel safe, valued, and protected is not just a moral obligation; it’s a business imperative that drives customer satisfaction and loyalty.”

Theatro is a voice-enabled mobile communication platform for the hourly workforce with its suite of collaboration apps and digital workflows. 

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