A fivefold rise in hate crime in the wake of Brexit has left retailers fearful attacks will move from the streets to their stores.

Rav Garcha, owner of six stores across the Midlands, told RN he is aware of store owners who have been subjected to verbal abuse, while a halal butcher yards from one of his stores was petrol bombed.

“Since the vote I have been aware of fellow shopkeepers being abused and it is affecting them,” he said. “I am more fearful now and know others are as well since the vote and in light of what’s been reported.”

Kam Nijjar (pictured, left), of Budgens Meriden (previously Spar), echoed Mr Garcha’s fears.

“Reading about the rise in racial abuse has made me more fearful. I read about the attack in Walsall and it’s totally terrible,” he said. “I’d urge everyone to report any hate crimes that take place. There needs to be a deterrent and we must not let these people get away with it.”

Last week, Jatinder Sahota, of Max’s Londis in Kent, questioned what the focus on immigration means for people like him who have worked hard to be at the hub of their community. “It’s very unsettling,” he said.

Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, revealed reports of hate crime had soared from an average of 63 a week to 331 in the first week after the vote, leaving people frightened to leave their homes.

The NFRN and Association of Convenience Stores, have described the rise in hate crimes as unacceptable.

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “The NFRN is against any instances of abuse – racial or otherwise – and would encourage victims to report these crimes and for the police to give such incidents the attention they deserve and to take the necessary action.”

Meanwhile, an RN poll found 52% believe Brexit will have a negative impact on their business, 20% a positive impact while 28% say no impact.