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A quarter of supermarket staff have experienced abuse during the coronavirus pandemic

Have you witnessed anything?

Alex Watson

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Michael Ely / Geograph

A new report has shown that 26% of the staff in UK supermarkets have experienced incidents of abuse from customers during the pandemic.

The report explains that while many of the 500 UK supermarkets surveyed (56%) have not experienced direct abuse, the staff still reported cases of customers behaving aggressively and ‘shouting in frustration’ while shopping. 

The report has been done by Shepper, and its co-founder, Jan Vanhoutte said: “Shop floor supermarket employees have been critical to our society during this challenging time, they are heroes in their own right, working on the frontline despite the risks, to help the nation.”

She continued: ”Whilst it’s upsetting to learn that this abuse is so prevalent, we’re glad to have highlighted the issue so that supermarkets can take action to help their staff further.”

David Clark / Geograph

The Shepper co-founder also hopes that the insights will encourage the wider public to be more mindful of how we treat those who are already doing so much for our country.

The experience of abuse, according to the research, was prevalent across all the retailers surveyed including Asda, Aldi, Morisons, Sainsburys, Tesco and Lidl. 

However, Aldi staff reported the highest percentage of abuse at 35% compared with 26% found in Asda, 21% in Morrisons, 25% in Sainsburys, 25% in Tesco and 28% in Lidl.

“This is an important issue for the industry and one we take extremely seriously,” said an Aldi spokeswoman.

She added: “Over the past few months, our colleagues have worked tirelessly to help feed the nation and we have comprehensive measures in place to protect and support our store teams.”

Eirian Evans / Geograph

The  British Retail Consortium advised retailers to continue working with the police to protect their staff. 

Helen Dickinson, the CEO of BRC said: “Retail staff all across the country have done a heroic job is ensuring we can get the essential items we need. Despite carrying out this crucial job in the most challenging circumstances, hardworking staff are still subject to violence and abuse.

“Any forms of this behaviour will not be tolerated and retailers will continue to work with the police to protect their staff and customers. The BRC is calling for tougher sentences for people who assault retail workers as no one should have to go to work fearing violence or threats.”

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B&M announces plans to open 45 new stores

Who else is excited for this?

Proper Manchester

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Hugh Venables / Geograph

We’ve got some good news for bargain hunters, as discount retailer B&M is set to open up to 45 new stores in the UK.

The company has announced that it plans to open more stores than expected this year, after its sales and profit jumped during the pandemic.

B&M kept most of its stores open during lockdown while some rivals shut their doors, with the demand for bargains rising as money became tight.

Albert Bridge / Geograph

As a result, it expects to open between 40 and 45 new stores before the end of the financial year – with most opening towards the end of this period – although details of where they’ll be located are unclear at the moment.

Simon Arora, the chief executive of the retailer, said: “Our business model is proving well-attuned to the evolving needs of customers, given our combination of everyday value across a broad range of product categories being sold at convenient out-of-town locations.

“Our people have risen to the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, not least in serving our customers through a period of high demand, keeping our shelves filled, providing a clean and safe shopping environment, as well as sourcing higher volumes than we had planned.”

Jaggery / Geograph

B&M was given permission to keep its stores open while others were forced to shut during the summer lockdown as it also sells food and DIY products.

Amisha Chohan, an equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, added: “B&M announced another positive trading update this morning, proving it is firing on all cylinders in both the UK and France.

“The retailer is also winning market share and has attracted a new, middle class, customer base – who are beginning to shop with them regularly.

“We believe B&M will continue to outperform peers as consumers become much more money conscious.”

Are you excited for more B&Ms?

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Parrots removed from wildlife park after they taught each other to swear at customers

This is hilarious…

Alex Watson

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Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

Five African grey parrots who were adopted by Lincolnshire Wildlife Park taught each other to swear in isolation. 

The group of parrots at the zoo have now had to be put back into isolation to stop them from swearing at customers.

Adopted together on August 15th, they shared a room at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park but it turns out they’ve been up to no good in lockdown.

Although staff at the park have found it hilarious and enjoyed watching the parrots, swift action has had to be taken when they started cursing at customers.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

CEO of the park, Steve Nichols said the parrots have been put in a ‘time out’, although he did confirm this isn’t the first time they’ve had swearing parrots. 

He told LincolnshireLive: “Every now and then you’ll get one that swears and it’s always funny. We always find it very comical when they do swear at you.”

He added: “The more they swear the more you usually laugh which then triggers them to swear again.”

The room full of swearing birds, the chief said. was similar to ‘an old working men’s club scenario’.  

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

Within 20 minutes of being in front of customers, the birds were swearing at them.

Mr Nichols confirmed that it was actually just a funny situation, explaining: “We found it highly amusing and the customers were fine – they were no problem at all.

“But we worried because we had a weekend coming up and children coming.”

The plan for the birds now is to release them separately so they can’t ‘encourage’ each other. Everyone at the park who has been working hard throughout the pandemic has enjoyed the laughs from the mischievous parrots.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

“It has been a real rough year, but we are the eternal optimists and we have no option. We have to keep moving forward,” said Mr Nichols.

The parrots have both been good for business.

Mr Nichols explained: “It is quite an unusual place where you are walking around and people are swearing at aviaries trying to get a parrot to swear back at them.”

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Government ‘preparing a total social lockdown plan’ for the North of England

Thoughts?

Alex Watson

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Louis Hansel/Unsplash

Pubs and restaurants could be forced to close for a fortnight as part of a ‘total social lockdown’ plan.

The emergency plan is currently being considered by the government following spikes in the number of cases across the North of England.

In Greater Manchester, each borough is currently at ‘Red Alert’ with the infection rate in Bolton one of the highest in the country (235.1 cases per 100,000 people). 

As things stand, in Greater Manchester people cannot visit friends and family in their homes or gardens and cannot socialise with people outside of their household or bubble in any public place.

These rules could now be rolled out across the North. 

The Times reports that a ‘social lockdown’ was presented as one of the options by the Covid-19 strategy committee, the week before new restrictions were imposed.

The emergency plans have been drawn up after local restrictions put in place in areas such as Greater Manchester failed to reverse the surge in infections.

Under these proposed plans, schools, shops, factories and offices where staff cannot work from home will remain open.

It would also see meeting other people socially in any indoor location banned, as well as pubs and restaurants being ordered to close for two weeks.

London may also face these same restrictions, if cases continue to rise in the capital.

From today, every person in England is required to self-isolate by law if they test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by the NHS Track and Trace service. 

Those who fail to do so risk fines starting at £1,000 that can reach £10,000.

The number of people who have tested positive (infection rate) in Manchester now stands at 201 per 100,000. An additional 1,000 new confirmed cases were recorded over the week leading to September 24th. 

 

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