Throughout the pandemic, retail workers have been asked to go above and beyond their roles to help enforce ever shifting business policies and health guidelines. The resulting confusion created an atmosphere of frustration for many customers, and in some cases escalated to abuse and violence against retail workers. Among those who have been the targets of abuse are people of color, those with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ.
A coalition of about 600,000 retailers and businesses called “Open to All” has launched a campaign to enlist shoppers to help stop bad behavior against retail employees. The campaign is not asking customers to step in to physically stop altercations, but rather to help de-escalate the situation and show support and appreciation for workers.
Even as the spread of COVID-19 slows, retailers fear this behavior will worsen as stores anticipate big crowds for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. With many states and businesses relaxing mask mandates and customers experiencing pandemic fatigue, workers worry about their safety.