Preparing for Black Friday: A Retailer's Guide to Safety and Efficiency
16 November 2023 - Evotix
As the Black Friday countdown begins, retailers are gearing up for the year's biggest sales and bracing for an enormous rush of in-store shoppers. This surge in customers is particularly significant considering the decline in foot traffic retailers have experienced in recent years. While offering lucrative business opportunities, this influx of people presents challenges in managing customer safety, crowd control and emergency planning.
To navigate these challenges, below are the 8 key things retailers and EHS professionals should have in place to ensure a safe and efficient Black Friday for both customers and employees.
1. Clear and Accessible Exits
Ensure all exit routes are unobstructed, well-marked and visible. Emergencies demand quick action, making it vital employees and customers can easily locate and reach exits. Just as important is employee response training to ensure employees know the required procedures during an emergency, including situations that necessitate sheltering in place.
2. Adequate Signage for Guidance
Effective signage is crucial to managing traffic flow and customer confusion. All stores should have clear signs indicating emergency protocols, merchandise locations and directions for entering, navigating and exiting the store. This not only enhances safety but removes bottlenecks, improves the shopping experience and minimizes customer frustration.
3. Slips, Trips and Fall Prevention
Retail spaces are prone to slips, trips and falls (STFs), especially during busy events like Black Friday. To mitigate these risks, ensure good housekeeping and maintenance practices. This includes securing mats, fixing uneven surfaces, clearly marking steps and elevation changes and promptly cleaning spills. It’s also crucial to keep walkways free of merchandise and debris.
4. Robust Health and Safety Training
With the expected rush of shoppers, retailers must reinforce employees’ health and safety training to ensure compliance with standards and regulations. Training should encompass emergency response, loss prevention, slips, trips and fall prevention and safe lifting techniques. It’s also important to include training in customer service and effective communication in high-pressure situations to ensure a secure and orderly store environment.
5. Secured Tools and Restricted Areas
Confirm that tools, ladders and other equipment are secured and kept out of customers’ reach. For example, accidents often occur from items falling overhead, such as when a customer attempts to place an item on a high shelf without pushing it back securely. Qualified EHS professionals and managers should conduct regular visual inspections throughout the day to mitigate these risks. This practice not only prevents accidents but maintains the overall security and safety of the store.
6. A Focus on Mental Health and Well-being
The heightened stress of Black Friday, exacerbated by long hours and demanding customers, can significantly affect the mental health of employees. Retailers must encourage staff to take regular breaks, especially during extended or overnight shifts, to combat stress and fatigue. Prioritizing mental well-being not only fosters a safer work environment but contributes to healthier employees and a more positive customer experience.
7. A Workplace Violence Prevention Plan
Have a robust strategy to address and de-escalate potential instances of workplace violence. This may include increased security measures and comprehensive employee training on identifying potential threats, reporting emergencies and knowing when to reach out to law enforcement. Additionally, create a culture of safety where employees feel empowered to communicate concerns and know they’ll receive the support they need to handle in-store confrontations or aggressive behavior.
8. Pre-Shift Briefings
Begin each shift with a strategic meeting to review the day's plan and discuss any incidents from the previous shift. Use this time to alert staff to areas requiring extra vigilance, such as long checkout lines or high-demand items. It's an opportunity to reinforce key safety messages, update stock levels and ensure every team member is informed and prepared for the shift ahead.
Black Friday can be safe and successful with the proper health and safety preparation. Retailers have the power to shape a shopping experience that exemplifies the highest standards of safety and operational efficiency. By emphasizing clear communication, safety protocols and the well-being of staff and customers, we can pave the way for a shopping environment that is secure and welcoming.
This Black Friday, let's not just chase profits. Let's establish a new precedent for safety and efficiency that sets the tone for retail excellence.
Want to learn more on managing health and safety efficiently and proactively in the workplace? Check out our blog: 5 Tips for Effective and Efficient Inspections
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