5 Top Tips To Effectively Manage Outdoor Queuing

outdoor queuing

How can you effectively manage outdoor queuing, in all conditions?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor queuing has become more of a regular occurrence than ever, but that’s not to say shoppers didn’t do it before and won’t be doing it after. 

During busy retail periods such as Christmas and January sales, thousands of people descend on their favourite shops and are prepared to wait outside for a bargain.


Queuing outside in 25-degree heat during the long summer days isn’t so bad. Of course, there are still safety precautions that need to be taken, but queuing outside in low-light conditions requires even further measures.

With that in mind, here are the 5 things you need to be aware of when managing outdoor retail queues, in all conditions.

  1. Visibility – Are your queuing barriers highly visible to customers and motorists both during the day and at night? 
  2. Throughput – Are your queues designed to move people through as fast as possible?
  3. Adaptability – Can your queuing system be easily adapted to suit different queue sizes at different times?
  4. Accessibility – Is your queue accessible for all people and hazard-free?
  5. Efficiency – Can you easily set up and store your queueing barriers?

1. Ensure your queue is clearly visible (in all lighting conditions)

Standard outdoor queuing barriers are great during the day, when they’re in clear view of customers and motorists and do exactly what you need them to do – get people into your store safely.

However, take the daylight out of the situation and you have an accident waiting to happen.

There is a reason traffic cones and other road safety devices have high visibility, reflective bands, on them so that they can be easily seen and avoided by motorists.

So what’s the difference for your queue?

Truth is, there isn’t one.

The risk isn’t just with the shoppers waiting in your queue, there is still a chance that the queuing barriers themselves will be hit by motorists in the car park… accidents happen. So having queuing barriers that aren’t reflective in the dark puts both queuing shoppers and motorists in danger.

Reflective queueing barriers offer advanced safety, both to your shoppers queuing and motorists in the car park. Just like the reflective band on a traffic cone, it’s possible to add reflective webbing to your new or existing Tensabarrier®, meaning that any light (such as headlights) directed at the barrier will reflect.

Tensator NightView™ features two strips of highly visible reflective strands which are directly woven into the Tensabarrier® webbing. This is great for outdoor queuing barriers within car parks and outside of stores.

2. Getting customers into the store as fast as possible

Your customers don’t want to be waiting outside for any longer than they have to, especially when it’s cold and dark, which is why your queue needs to be designed with throughput in mind.

Try to position your queue in a way that remains safe, yet doesn’t take customers any longer to get through than is necessary. Having adaptable and efficient queue barriers will help you to make changes to your layout if required.

Aside from this, simply finding the start of a queue can sometimes be a challenge. Try using different kinds of signage to help people find the right queue. Post top signage can be a great way of utilising your existing queuing barriers to display wayfinding signage and other messaging to customers.

We offer design and consultancy services that can help to configure your queue’s layout most effectively. We also offer a range of wayfinding and signage solutions including:

3. Ensure you can adapt and re-configure your outdoor queuing barriers to suit different periods

The amount of customers in your queue is constantly varying, time of day, day of the week and special occasions are all factors to consider when implementing your outdoor queuing.

This is why it’s important to have queuing barriers that are lightweight, manoeuvrable and can be easily re-configured to suit the number of people you’re expecting. The last thing your customer wants is to be zig-zagging through a queue meant for 200 people when there’s nobody in it.

Ensure your queuing barriers are lightweight, manoeuvrable and can be easily configured in different ways that suit both busy and quieter periods.

The Tensabarrier® is lightweight and being retractable makes it easy to move and reconfigure when required. The Rollabarrier® Post takes adaptability even further, with a set of hard-wearing wheels and easy storage design makes adapting queues easier than ever before.

4. Your queue needs to be accessible for everybody

Navigating tight queues with large post bases and protruding feet can be tricky for wheelchair users, pushchairs, suitcases and the visually impaired. It’s far too easy to get a wheel caught, or accidentally trip over the foot of a barrier.

In low-light conditions, these kinds of queuing barriers become even more of a hazard. Shoppers, especially those that are visually impaired, are likely to accidentally trip on post bases that are protruding into the queues walkway.

Consider using a post with a low profile and low leading edges, that allow wheels to roll over and avoid tripping when walked into – enabling accessibility for all.

The latest Tensabarrier® universal base features the lowest leading edge on the market. Ensuring that your queue is an accessible and safe environment for everybody, including people with mobility aids or visual impairments.


5. Your barriers should be efficient to set up and move

During the COVID-19 pandemic and the Christmas shopping period, outdoor queuing measures are often temporary, so it’s important to have queuing barriers that can be easily laid out.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there will likely come a time when your outdoor queue is no longer needed, so remember to free up some storage space. Large industrial crowd control barriers can consume lots of space, so unless you have a large storage area, you may want to opt for a barrier that’s easier to store.

Consider using retractable queuing barriers. They are lightweight and easily clip together to form your queue, being retractable also means they use a lot less storage space.

The Tensator Rollabarrier® Post has been designed to ensure easy set-up and quick storage making it the perfect solution for temporary outside queuing. The base features a set of hard-wearing wheels which enables the post to be moved without lifting – simply tip back and roll. The unique design also allows for up to three posts to be stacked together for easy deployment and compact storage – taking up to 50% less space than a standard post.

Start improving your outdoor queuing experience

The Tensabarrier® has been talked about a lot in this blog, so why not see what all the fuss is about?

You can download a copy of our catalogue below, showing you all of the customisable options that the Tensabarrier® has to offer.


If you’re not ready to talk about your requirements just yet, then why not check out resources? You’ll be able to find all of our product brochures, sector brochures and case studies.

If you do want to discuss your stores’ queue management challenges, Dave Potts, our specialist in retail queue management would be happy to help you. He has over 20 years of experience in helping retail stores across the UK to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.

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