We’ve been producing SLR for well over two decades and while much of the industry has changed beyond recognition over that time, there’s one specific thing that hasn’t changed a bit: retail crime.
It’s as endemic as it ever was. In fact, you could easily make a decent case that it’s actually worse now than it’s ever been. Shoplifting is rife, violence and abuse towards shop staff is literally a daily occurrence and in the last week or two alone we’ve seen unspeakable violence and aggression directed towards retailers who were only doing their job.
Edinburgh Londis assistant manager Asma Haq was left with bruised ribs as a gang of lowlife young thugs took selfies as they ransacked the store. A repeat shoplifter who said he was carrying a knife threatened to “put holes” in Musselburgh retailer Dan Brown during an altercation in the store. I could go on and on and on.
Most horrifically of all, it looks like we can add the death of yet another retailer to the shameful list of innocent shop workers who have lost their lives in their stores. It’s worth reading that sentence again: lost their lives. Gone forever.
Best-One retailer Bashir Ahmed reportedly died in his store last month after a confrontation with a shoplifter.
This has all happened in a matter of weeks and I’m sure there have been countless other horror stories in that time that didn’t make it into the headlines.
But here’s a question: if someone had died doing his or her job while, say, collecting bins or teaching schoolchildren or driving a bus, can you imagine the outcry? The Daily Mail would have a field day. Our country is going to wrack and ruin. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Yet when it happens to retailers, it almost goes unnoticed. A short article in a regional newspaper and we all get back on with our lives. How has it come to this? It’s not a glib, trite question. It’s a very deep and profound one. How has it come this? Why does our society seem to feel that death, violence, abuse and theft are just part of the job? They’re not part of any other job, so why should they be part of ours?
It wasn’t that long ago that politicians were heralding the remarkable role that the local retailing sector (alongside the NHS) played in keeping Scotland in one piece during the pandemic. We all know politicians are renowned for their short memories, but come on.
Worse still in this sorry tale of woe: police response to incidents in stores is, according to many retailers I’ve spoken to, getting worse. And it wasn’t great to start with.
RIP Bashir. The thoughts of our entire industry are with you and your family. It should never have been allowed to end this way for you.
Antony Begley, Publishing Director, SLR