According to a survey, seven out of ten charities say their volunteers or employees were verbally abused when they asked customers to adhere to coronavirus safety measures.
Seventy percent of the charities surveyed by the Charity Retail Association (CRA) said they had received reports of abusive behavior from their stores.
CRA’s 440 members make up around 9,000 of the UK’s 11,000 charity shops, and 184 responded to the survey between October 12-14.
One respondent said an elderly volunteer was sworn in and spat at in one of their shops.
The CRA has also been told of an incident where a customer pelted stocks at a volunteer who asked him to clean up his hands.
In another incident, two employees were verbally abused when they asked someone to put on a face covering. The customer then coughed on their faces.
The survey also found that more than half of respondents (53%) said abuse had increased in the past month.
The CRA is launching a campaign, #ShopSafeShopKind, to encourage customers to be aware of their behavior towards employees and other customers and to wear face-covering if they are not exempt.
Robin Osterley, CEO of CRA, said, “We saw a lot of friendliness and camaraderie from the public during the store lockdown and reopening, and we want to restore that sense of togetherness.
“It is a source of grief for us as a sector that charity workers are being abused, especially as the majority volunteer their time and skills.
“We want everyone to work together as a team to get through this difficult and uncertain time and make charity shopping a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone.
“We encourage shoppers to visit #ShopSafeShopKind.”