MP for Stockton South, Matt Vickers has called for action as assaults on retail workers double during the Covid pandemic.

Violence and abuse against shop workers has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a union representing retail staff.

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) says retail workers have been assaulted, threatened or abused at least once a week on average since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, compared to once a fortnight in 2019.

In the week after face masks were made mandatory in shops, the Co-op reported 990 incidents of anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse in its stores.

Mr Vickers will be joining a policy discussion with USDAW in the hope of driving the issue up the political agenda.

Mr Vickers said: “This is something that matters a great deal to me.

“Before politics I worked at Woolworths and Home Bargains, from time to time you would have to deal with abuse but nothing like the trend we are seeing today. It’s appalling, retail workers have come to the rescue during this pandemic, they are not paid to deal with your abuse.

“This is a real plea to the public, please respect and be kind to retail workers this Christmas. Whether it’s through lockdown or the potentially busy Christmas period as restrictions ease in December, retail workers are key workers, while the country retreated to the safety of our homes, they rolled up their sleeves and got on with the task of ensuring shops remained open for the rest of us.

"They are working incredibly hard and deserve our gratitude and respect.”