The issues

Increased Exposure to Societal Risk


Retail precincts are increasingly being impacted by the serious issue of drug and substance abuse present in our communities.  

  • Retail workers are on the frontline of dealing with individuals affected by drug or substance abuse.
  • Retailers reported up to 300% increase in incidents with drug-affected people in their stores 
  • Retail workers often feel unsafe entering or leaving their stores. Some are robbed, attacked, stalked and sexually harassed 
  • In some cases, household products are shoplifted and then misused as a drug, often while still in the precinct 
  • Retailers are not trained or compensated to address these issues 
  • The industry relies on a high proportion of young workers and female workers and any increased risk to safety can be the determining factor for leaving or avoiding the profession

Did you know?
Incidents with drug-affected individuals in stores are reported to have increased as much as 300%



The impacts include: 

  • It's now the norm for retail workers to be 'ad-hoc' counsellors and law enforcement handling drug-affected people every day 
  • Drug-affected individuals are often more violent offenders, confronting retail workers on a daily basis
  • These community issues significantly reduce retail worker safety and job satisfaction
  • Additionally, these issues impact the appeal of a precinct, reducing customer traffic and ultimately threatening commercial viability  


These societal risks represent a community issue that retailers are not equipped to address in isolation. Is should not fall on them to bear the health and wellbeing costs of these community issues. 

Therefore, NRA recommends that:

  • Retailers receive help to improve safety and cope with dangerous offenders 
  • Police need dedicated resources to prevent community issues threatening retail precincts 
  • Community issues like substance abuse and drug addiction need intervention programs instead of relying on retail workers to manage impacts instore 
  • Retail workers should be provided with more support to ensure they don’t feel alone when dealing with anti-social or drug-affected customers 

Australians Want Change

In 2020, the National Retail Association performed research with over 4000 Australian retail workers to gauge support for initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of retail workers.

The study found that the majority of the Australian public agrees that workers who would otherwise stay in the profession are looking for other jobs due to abuse & crime in the retail sector.

Dedicated programs are needed to upskill retailers and their teams to ensure they are equipped to reduce crime, handle disorderly behaviour, protect team and customer safety and help retailers manage the personal health and wellbeing impacts.

The National Retail Association is championing awareness and change to address issues impacting the health & wellbeing of retail workers.

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The National Retail Association is championing awareness and change to address issues impacting the health & wellbeing of retail workers.

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