The number of thefts from shops rose by a third in a single year with an incident occurring nearly every minute, 24 hours a day - while incidents of violence and abuse against shop staff doubled.
The findings from British Retail Consortium's (BRC's) Retail Crime Survey 2009, show physical violence rose 58%, verbal abuse by 37%.
At least 22,000 retail employees suffering threats, physical or verbal attacks and he actual figure is probably much higher as a good deal of abuse goes unreported.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "The doubling in violence and abuse against retail staff is the biggest concern of all. It should never be regarded as ‘part of the job'. Punishments must be strong enough to deter and the police should measure workplace violence when they assess business crime in the community and determine local policing priorities."
The BRC has recommended more police focus on tackling serious and organised crime against businesses and a better co-ordination of action targeting offences that cross police boundaries, more effective engagement between police and local shops, so retailers are seen as key partners in communities and genuinely involved in setting local crime priorities and local assessments and policing plans to include local retailers' own experiences of business crime.