Customer Behavior is Driving Pandemic Distress for Grocery Store Workers, Report Finds

Holiday shopping season is ramping up while COVID-19 cases are rising nationwide, presenting increased risk for essential retail workers – not just physically but mentally.

A new report by University of Arizona researchers,  including Dr.Sabrina Helm and Dr. Melissa Barnett, both associate professors in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences finds that 20% of Arizona grocery store workers surveyed have experienced severe levels of mental distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the major sources of that stress: customer behavior. The report, "Frontline Essential Workers at Risk in Arizona: The Safety, Health, and Financial Impacts of COVID-19," is based on a survey conducted by Mayer and his colleagues in collaboration with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99, which represents workers in nearly half of all grocery stores in Arizona. A total of 3,996 UFCW members completed the survey over the summer, during the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona.

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