Most shopkeepers victims of violence
Convenience store owners have called for more protection from the gardaí and the courts to combat what they say are daily threats to their businesses.
Eight out 10 store owners say they have experienced aggressive, violent and threatening behaviour.
A survey of 1,820 members of the Convenience and Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) found that 43pc of them had suffered incidents of crime within the last month.
Retailers complain of a failure to enforce laws and a lack of legislation to deal with aggressive customers. Some 87pc of those surveyed said there was not adequate protection for the sector.
The combination of aggressive behaviour by customers and ever-rising insurance premiums was putting a huge squeeze on retailers.
CSNA chief executive Vincent Jennings said anti-social behaviour is at an all-time high and was having a huge impact on the sector and retail workers.
"It is a national issue of growing concern and our members have had enough," he said, ahead of the lobby group's national conference today.
"I would like to remind those in politics in this election year, that the retail industry is worth over €7bn to the Exchequer, employing almost 285,000 people."
He said retailers were demanding a zero-tolerance approach from the gardaí, the courts, the Department of Justice and politicians.
CSNA represents newsagents, convenience store owners along with large retailers and multi-franchises owners.