COVID-19 has introduced increasing levels of consumer anxiety which can manifest as aggression or abuse directed at retail workers. Anxious consumers seek to resolve problems urgently, with flexible and empathetic employees. Yet, too often, retail employees are constrained by policies, procedures, and protocols. Now is the opportune time for retailers to consider alternative ways to alleviate consumer anxiety, empower employees and create positive organisational benefits. ARA’s Consumer Research Advisory Chair, Professor Gary Mortimer, from the QUT Business School will present new internationally published research that offers alternative approaches to empowering retail employees to deal with anxious or distressed consumers.