Customer abuse up 50 per cent at Woolworths Group stores

Woolworths Group is calling for respect from customers as team members continue to suffer verbal abuse and physical aggression in stores.

Since July, an average of 420 incidents a month are being reported from Woolworths Supermarkets, Metro Stores and BIG W – a rise of 50 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths Group, said it was confronting that team members are being treated this way while simply trying their best to do their job.

“In the past fortnight, we have had team members punched, spat on, and other recent incidents including threats with a range of weapons from baseball bats, iron bars to knives. We are also seeing aggression and violence against our home delivery drivers with one driver recently pulled from his truck at gunpoint.

“This behaviour is unacceptable in our stores, across our delivery network – or in any workplace. That’s why we need to continue to invest in safety for our team and customers and work with the broader retail industry and government to help tackle this extremely worrying trend.

Woolworths has invested over $40 million this financial year on CCTV upgrades, team safety cameras, headsets, and personal duress devices to keep store teams safe. It has also invested in face-to-face resilience and de-escalation training, as well as virtual reality training for common aggressive situations.

“Christmas is just a couple of weeks away and we know that it can feel a little more stressful at this time of year. Stores will be busy, and our team is excited to help customers get ready to celebrate, all we ask is that they are treated with the respect they deserve.

“I can’t stress enough that 99 per cent of our customers are amazing and always treat our team with respect, but unfortunately in the post COVID-era we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of people walking through our doors who act aggressively – and sometimes violently.”

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