Even with a slight decline this past year, Thanksgiving weekend has upheld its reputation as the most popular shopping weekend of the year. Last year, over 130 million people shopped or planned to shop over the holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. More specifically, a whopping 80 million of those shoppers participated in Black Friday shopping.
The unofficial holiday holds significant benefits for both shoppers and retailers alike. Shoppers have the opportunity to purchase their “must have” items of the season at severely discounted rates, early in the season, while retailers, who have become accustomed to online shoppers, are confronted with a sudden influx of foot traffic at their brick and mortar locations.
But, similar to any major event, an influx of sudden foot traffic has the potential to create chaos.
From arguments to brawls, to stampedes, it is no secret that Black Friday draws in wild and unruly crowds. Over the past few years, there have been almost a hundred injuries and sadly even a few deaths resulting from Black Friday shopping. While it’s important to maintain proper safety standards throughout the year, retailers must pay special attention to this particular weekend.
To help increase safety while also maximizing revenue opportunities and ensuring a good shopping in-store experience, retailers should adhere to a few simple, last minute guidelines:
Check your Plan
Unlike random acts of chaos, retailers have been planning for this high volume holiday months ahead. Checking the plan for last minute details – from scheduling of extra staff, to reviewing the store layout, and Black Friday specific safety protocol is a good idea.
For example, make sure you have highlighted the important points throughout the store and your staff know where these are. Where are the exits and entrances? Where will your security be positioned? Where will the proper barriers and signage be located throughout the store?
Walk the floor. Cover every aspect of the customer journey—from the entrance to the checkout. If everything is prepared and organized in advance, there will be fewer opportunities for surprises.
Be Prepared for Crowd Control
OSHA offers suggestions and guidelines for retailers to be mindful of during the holiday season. According to those guidelines, the most crucial preparations retailers should make are having in place adequate security and sufficient crowd control measures.
The National Retail Federation suggests, “creating barricaded lines with adequate numbers of breaks and turns at regular intervals.” Portable posts with retractable belts will create an organized barrier and will give retailers and staff the flexibility to adjust the layout as needed throughout the day.
Review Traffic Flow
Due to the excitement of shopping, many Black Friday customers may forget common shopping etiquette. To combat this and keep customers safe, retailers need to review their traffic flow throughout the store. The NRF suggests placing specific “hot” items in key spots throughout the store to manage congestion. Organize your queue and make use of every square inch of your retail space. For example, try placing sale items or last minute stocking stuffer items strategically near the checkout line to keep customers engaged.
By following these simple guidelines, retailers have the ability to create a positive customer experience this holiday season. It could make the difference between a successful and prosperous start to the holiday shopping season and a dangerous situation accompanied by unwanted Black Friday news headlines.