Retail Workers Consider Leaving Job over Safety

17 Dec, 2023 Liz Carey


Akron, OH ( – As retail workers continue to be targeted for attacks by customers, some are planning on leaving their jobs, a new survey has found.

The study comes as a retail clerk was fatally shot in Akron after a customer tried to purchase a cigar with “unacceptable” cash.

Akron police said in a news release that a 21-year-old store clerk was working at the Borders Drive Thru on Dec. 12, when a customer tried to buy a Black and Mild cigar with a bill that was in “poor and unacceptable condition.” Police said the customer and clerk got into a dispute about the payment leading to the customer pulling out a gun and demanding the cigar. The clerk gave the customer the cigar and asked him to leave, but the customer instead fired two shots at employees and fled on foot.

When police arrived at the scene, the clerk appeared to have been shot in the neck. Within minutes of arriving, the clerk was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are still looking for the gun-wielding customer.

Attacks like that are causing concern among retail workers and their personal safety, a new Retail Worker Safety Report from Motorola Solutions said Dec. 11.

The report outlines the results of a survey Motorola did in November of more than 1,000 retail store associates and managers. According to the survey, one in four workers said they were considering leaving the retail sector over safety concerns, and that employers who invest in store security measures are more likely to maintain employee retention rates.

Among workers top safety concerns were petty theft, hostile customer interactions, grab and run incidents and loitering. According to the survey, 61 percent of retail workers expressed safety concerns heading into the holiday shopping season.

Attacks on workers have been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

On December 3, an employee of a liquor store. was assaulted by a group of people. The incident happened at a Total Wine store in Dedham, Mass.

Officers said between six and eight people who “may have been refused service” the day before returned to the store and confronted the employee, Dedham Police Chief Michael d’Entremont said in a statement.

According to police the employee was assaulted outside of the store as it closed. One person displayed a knife, and another allegedly took the employee’s phone.

Officials said the employee was evaluated at the scene and refused further medical assistance.

In St. Claire Shores, Mich., an employee of a Kroger store was punched in the face by a customer.

Police said on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Shelby Pelham, 21, didn’t have enough money on her Bridge Card to purchase all of her groceries, and needed assistance in taking some of them off of her tab. When the employee walked away from her as she was attempting to deduct the items, Pelham became so upset she walked after the employee and punched her. Officers said Pelham’s 1-year-old daughter was sitting in the shopping cart near Pelham when the assault happened.

Officials said the employee suffered a black eye and multiple injuries to the head but is expected to recover.

Pelham was charged with misdemeanor assault and released on bond.

And in Lower Southampton Township, Penn., police there are searching for a suspect involved in an assault on an employee at the Trevose Wawa in November.

Police said a man entered the Wawa on Nov. 4 and got into a verbal dispute with an employee. The man then took off his sweatshirt, went behind the deli counter and assaulted the employee. Security footage shows that sever customers were in the store at the time and appear to have witnessed the assault.

And in Harrisburg, N.C., a Dollar Tree employee said she was afraid to go to work after being attacked by over stolen candy.

Police said the incident followed a man getting upset about the line at the register taking too long.

The Dollar Tree worker told police that on the day before Halloween, the line to check out was long. One of the men in the line got angry and left the store without paying for the candy he was attempting to purchase, about $15 worth.

When the store’s assistant manager ran outside to get a description of the man’s car, she was attacked, police said. A woman with the man charged at the door, jerked it open and pulled the assistant manager out of the store by their hair into the parking lot and punch the woman.

“It was a pretty frightening experience for me; being 20 years old and the only manager on duty, it’s pretty frightening to have somebody that can just come in and yank you out of your store, it’s terrifying,” Tessa Hayes, the assistant manager told Queen City News in North Carolina.

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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