TOWN centre shop owners claim their staff are scared of coming to work on what they have called Shoplifting Thursday.
They say they are targeted by thieves daily, but especially on Thursdays when the flea market comes to Accrington.
And they urged the police and Hyndburn Council to act before the problem spirals out of control.
Some traders blamed people attending the Maundy Grange relief centre on Abbey Street for the unruly behaviour and called for it to be moved elsewhere.
Speaking to the Observer this week, shops and stores said trade was being blighted by thieves, drunks and drug addicts.
Adrian Lomax, manager of the JJB Sports branch in Cornhill, said the firm has prosecuted five shoplifters since June and has been forced to step up security.
The store now has a "greeter" to check for known yobs coming into the store. It also bans customers from wearing hooded tops.
Mr Lomax said: "It is a big problem for us and it will get worse during Christmas because thieves come in here and see desirable items and decide to help themselves.
"We take a zero-tolerance approach to shoplifters and also use a radio system to alert other shops about known troublemakers in the vicinity.
"Our security has got tighter lately and I know other shops have had problems."
The manager of a major high street retailer, based in Blackburn Road, asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
She said: "I would say we get between 10 and 12 incidents a week and I am hundreds of pounds down on takings.
"All of my staff are girls so people come in and think they can just push them about.
"They are frightened by the abuse they get from drug addicts and alcoholics. It is getting to the stage where they just don't want to come in.
"Thursdays are worst. It is a running joke that we call it Shoplifting Thursday because it gets so bad. The flea market brings out all the thieves. But every day is bad."
Clive Wallwork, of Clive's Barbers, in Abbey Street, said: "It is obvious these people are coming from Maundy Grange.
"No-one objects to people in need getting help but our business are suffering. It would be sensible to move Maundy Grange away from the shopping area."
Maundy Grange manager Dorothy McGregor, who has lived 50 yards away for 32 years, said: "We have been open eight years and the problems people are talking about have been going on much longer.
"But when situations like this arise people want a scapegoat and it appears we are the easiest one.
"We do not allow people to come in with bags and we actively discourage shoplifting and call the police if we find any evidence of it going on."
Hyndburn Council leader Councillor Peter Britcliffe said: "I understand the concerns expressed and have arranged a meeting with Maundy Relief and the police to discuss this matter."
Accrington police inspector Terry Woods said people could raise issues with their community beat manager.