Customer-facing retail sales staff have died with coronavirus at a higher average rate than the working-age population as a whole, according to new official statistics.
Thirty-three male sales assistants and retail cashiers died between March 9 and April 20 with Covid-19 coronavirus mentioned on their death certificates – a rate of 19.3 deaths per 100,000 working in the same group. Thirty-seven female sales assistants and retail cashiers have died (6.5/100,000) during the same period, according to new findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS has released analysis of deaths associated with Covid-19 that took place between March 9 and April 20. In total, 2,494 people of working age (up to 64), whose occupations were listed on their death certificates, died while infected with Covid-19. Of them, 1,612 were men – accounting for 9.9 deaths per 100,000 people in that group, compared to 5.5 deaths per 100,000 among women – of whom 882 died.
The highest death rates were among men working in lower-paid occupations. Security guards, for example, had one of the highest death rates from the virus, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000 men working in that industry, while social care workers, both male (23.4 deaths/100,000) and female (12.7/100,000) also had relatively high rates.
Twenty-one retail and wholesale managers and directors died in that period with Covid-19, of whom 15 were male (10.8/100,000) and six female. Twelve male and four female shopkeepers or owners of retail and/or wholesale businesses have died.
In related industries, male HGV drivers had a death rate of 9.8 deaths per 100,000, and male van drivers a rate of 12.6/100,000. Ten managers in distribution and transport have died, of whom nine were male, and five managers and directors in storage and warehousing, of whom all were male.
Report authors Dr Ben Windsor-Shellard and Jasveer Kaur said in the study, Coronavirus (Covid-19) related deaths by occupation, England and Wales: “This analysis does not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving Covid-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure; we adjusted for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence.”
The ONS has also published a report, Which occupations have the highest potential exposure to the coronavirus (Covid-19)? that illustrates the likely potential exposure of different occupations to coronavirus. This is based on US data from 2019 and suggests that retail cashiers and checkout operators fall into a group that work at arms length from others, and are exposed to disease more than once a year. The ONS figures suggest this group includes 178,000 people in the UK, of whom 72% are female, 23% are aged 55 and over, and 18% are from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) groups.
The report comes as non-essential retailers were yesterday warned they may need to wait to reopen shops until June 1 at the earliest.