Jamie Carlisle, 26, of no fixed abode, was spotted putting duvet covers into his bag at the Morrison’s store on Blackpool Road, Deepdale, Preston.
As he was challenged he began to struggle before spraying a can of pepper spray into the faces of a security guard and a store manager, which momentarily blinded them with a burning sensation.
Recorder Sophie Cartwright said: “It must have been plainly terrifying in those circumstances.”
Prosecuting, Mercedeh Jabbari said: “The security guard grabbed the defendant who began to resist and lash out. He was assisted by the store manager.
“All of a sudden he noticed spray directed into his eyes. His eyes began to immediately sting. He was struggling to see but maintained hold of his arm. Eventually officers arrived and arrested him. The pepper spray was found on the floor.
“The guard says he suffered sore eyes and a headache and a small cut to his leg.”
In a victim statement the manager spoke of his fear the substance was acid after it started burning his face and mouth.
In interview Carlisle, who has 30 convictions for 47 offences, claimed he acted in self defence.
Defending, Sharon Watson said: “It was really an act of utter desperation not to stop and do as he was told - he must have known the game was up and he was going nowhere.”