High Streets Initiative · 12 June 2018

High street retailers reveal impact of anti-social behaviour amid rise in threats and assault

high street anti-social behaviour
Is anti-social behaviour affecting business on the high street?
According to first-hand accounts from retailers, shoppers are likely to witness intimidation, drug dealing and vandalism when browsing their local high street. So what impact has anti-social behaviour had on their business?

As part of research conducted by online marketplace OnBuy.com, retailers detailed which kinds of anti-social behaviour were most prevalent on UK high streets and the subsequent impact on trade.

Overall, 14% of retail and wholesale businesses had been affected by anti-social behaviour in the last 12 months.

Anti-social behaviour experienced in the last 12 months

  1. Groups hanging about on the street: 41%
  2. People being intimidated, threatened or verbally abused: 39%
  3. Street drinking/drunken behaviour: 22%
  4. Inconsiderate behaviour: 22%
  5. People using or dealing drugs: 14%
  6. Vandalism or graffiti: 10%
  7. Littering: 10%
  8. Vehicle related: 7%
  9. Loud music: 5%
Of those who had experienced behaviours such as vandalism, littering or drunken activity at their business, two-thirds said it had overall had a negative impact. The findings were broken down below.

Negative impact of anti-social behaviour

  1. Financial impact: 34%
  2. Impact on custom: 32%
  3. Impact on employees: 29%
Commenting on the findings, Cas Paton, managing director of OnBuy.com, urged policy makers to go further in protecting high street businesses.

what’s most worrying is that in this current climate of lawless behaviour and seemingly minimal consequence, the anti-social behaviour experienced by those in the wholesale and retail comes as no real surprise, he said.

it may be the government needs to revisit its stance on the leniency of some of the sentences for behaviours like those listed, or put stronger, firmer measures in place to reassure staff they are protected, and consequence is on the cards for those who act out inappropriately.

Assaults on retail staff rising

Further research revealed that physical and verbal attacks against retail workers was also rising. Some 1, 433 incidents of assault and threats per 1, 000 workplaces were registered in 2017.

The Independent Retail Report 2018 found that almost two-thirds of shop workers were verbally abused last year, 40% received threats, while every day approximately 250 retail staff were victims of assault.

The figures confirmed a worrying rise in abuse against retail workers, with assaults increasing by 25% and threats by 38%.




Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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