Superdrug to crack down on in-store aggression and violence at Christmas with its ‘Shop Kind at Christmas’ initiative

In June 2020, Superdrug launched its in-store campaign ‘Be Kind, Shop Kind’ in response to the rise in aggressive behaviour towards store colleagues during the pandemic. The initiative pledged to support and protect Superdrug store employees, with a zero-tolerance stance for any aggression shown towards them. With the festive period on the horizon and customers shopping for gifts earlier than ever before, Superdrug are encouraging everyone to Shop Kind at Christmas.

During the pandemic, Superdrug employees faced a staggering 21% YOY increase in aggressive behaviour that has only risen throughout the year, often due to an increase of negative reactions to social distancing and COVID secure measures in stores. Aggression towards retail staff has been a growing issue across the whole sector in the past year, with the 2020 Retail Crime Survey revealing that they recorded an average of 424 violent or abusive incidents each day1 in the period before March.

Previous data from last year shows that the highest numbers of violence and aggression in Superdrug stores were reported at the end of the year from October to December, and it is predicted that these figures will only be set to increase this year, with an even bigger spike in incidents over the Christmas shopping period. Internal violence and aggression reports have also identified 20 hotspots around the country that show a markedly increased number of incidents, and as a result Superdrug are looking into the introduction of body cams to keep colleagues and customers safe in those store locations. Superdrug also has CCTV in all stores, and can reserve the right to refuse entry to store.

One member of staff, Kate from Bristol has experienced this first hand explaining, “We have had several incidents this year which include being threatened to be stabbed, multiple verbal racial and homophobic abuse incidents towards my team. We even had a brick thrown through our shop window at the team and my Assistant Store Manager was punched in the chest by a disgruntled customer.”

“Attending the violence and aggression training really helped me prepare and understand how to handle these situations and also gave me the tools to pass this training onto my team. My priority is ensuring that my team aren’t put at risk and advise them to always remain professional and calm when dealing with aggressive or violent customers. ”

The lead up to Christmas can be a hectic time, with Mintel2 reporting that a third of people admit feeling stressed during the festive season, which is likely to only be heightened by the uncertainty of 2020. When asked what specifically stresses people out the most about the festive season, Mintel also reported that 46% of consumers worry about the cost of gifts, however this year Superdrug plan to give back to their customers with great savings, to help make it a more enjoyable and stress-free Christmas. This year has already seen the launch of some of the biggest deals on products available exclusively at Superdrug, with an early release of Black Friday offers enabling customers to take advantage of savings of up to 67% on some big-ticket items. As an essential retailer, Superdrug will be remaining open throughout the national lockdown period, however would encourage customers to shop online for non-essential items such as gifts where possible, and to also take advantage of the Stuart same day courier service, available in select areas.

The Shop Kind at Christmas initiative aims to combat aggression and protect staff, particularly over the festive period. Superdrug takes acts of violence, thefts and aggression seriously and will support the strongest action against individuals, including prosecution. When welcoming customers this festive period, Superdrug will be continuing to actively encourage shoppers to remain respectful of staff when shopping in store, and to be mindful that the festive period is a time for giving, sharing, and above all else, spreading kindness. Customers will be reminded of this as they shop in store via the impactful point of sale, Superdrug’s in store radio, and on colleagues’ uniforms. Local stores with higher incident rates will also be running individual incentives to reward stories of customer kindness over the festive period, with customers shopping through click and collect to be encouraged to pledge their support to ending violence and aggression against retail workers via a QR code with their order. After pledging support, customers will be entered into an incredible prize draw – one act of kindness deserves another after all!

One member of staff, Lara from Kirkgate said: “I think “Be Kind, Shop Kind” is a great initiative. It makes me feel like someone out there is looking out for me and the daily challenges we face in retail. If it just makes one person stop and think about how they approach their shopping trip then it’s all worthwhile.”

“Whilst this pandemic has brought out the worst in some, it has mostly shone a light on the lovely, kind and considerate people we have shopping in our store. Our pharmacy team have received cards and chocolates for the hard work they are doing, and we have also had customers come into store with gift tubs of chocolates for the full team! It’s such a lovely feeling to know that a customer has had such a great experience in our stores that they have felt compelled to go out of their way to say thank you.”

Jerry Walkling, sales operations director at Superdrug, also says: “The festive period can be a stressful time for many, however we encourage all of our customers to Be Kind and Shop Kind this Christmas. As an essential retailer, our store teams are on hand to ensure health and beauty essentials are available and accessible to our customers, and their safety and protection continues to be our priority.”