Questions and Answers About Black Friday Safety

Here are the answers to some of the questions we hear the most about Black Friday Safety.

When is a retailer/business liable for my injuries?

Retailers and businesses have a responsibility to consumers to keep their premises safe and free of potential accidents. An example where a store can be held liable for a shopper’s injury is if the store knew there was a damaged display in a high-traffic area and a shopper falls and suffers injury as a result. Another example would be if a drink was spilled and not properly cleaned up, causing a shopper to slip and fall in the store. A variety of safety factors come into play for retailers on Black Friday, which can include, but are not limited to: crowd control, store display maintenance, slip and falls, theft and implementing additional security measures.

What is Black Friday?

The day after Thanksgiving (Friday) is referred to as Black Friday. This is also the official start of the holiday shopping season. Nearly every store and retailer comes out with door buster sales and early bird specials to attract shoppers to their store. This year, stores like Best Buy are opening earlier than ever at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. The push towards earlier store hours has been joined by retailers like Kmart, Sears, J.C. Penny and Macy’s. Target announced that it will offer holiday shopping deals as early as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving this year.

What are some safety tips to remember while shopping this Black Friday?

  • Have a game plan. Come up with a plan for the day, detailing the stores you are going to visit and the deals you are hoping to get. Make shopping decisions before entering the store. This will provide you with some organization and alleviate potential stressors throughout the shopping day.
  • Proper attire. Dress comfortably and anticipate cooler temperatures. It is a good idea to wear layers and comfortable shores. Stay hydrated and consider leaving small children at home in the care of a trusted family member.
  • Enter with caution. Every year, at least one crazed shopper makes the news for mobbing the entrance doors as soon as a big retailer opens its doors. Be safe and courteous to employees and other shoppers when entering the building.
  • Check-out Etiquette. Wait politely during check-out. Do not hold spaces in line for other shoppers and never push up against those in front of you.
  • Practice patience. Expect long lines and do not get derailed by grumpy shoppers. Shouting matches and fights often erupt in the store. Remember, you do not have to participate. Be the bigger person and walk away.
  • Avoid crowds and long lines. For stores opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, try visiting between midnight and 3 a.m. The initial crowds will have died down and shelves will be restocked during this time. Electronic stores like Best Buy often have the longest lines, not to mention some of the earliest lines. Check stores like Target and WalMart for the same items, which will likely have the same deal, with shorter lines.
  • Protect yourself. Women should carry their purses close to them at all times and men should carry their wallets in their front pockets to deter pickpockets. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash when you are out shopping. Be on the lookout for loiters around your car and watch for any suspicious people following you. Shop in a group whenever possible. You are less likely to be a target.
  • Conceal your purchases. Nothing is more tempting to a thief than a car full of shopping bags. Always lock purchases in your trunk if you are heading back into the store to continue shopping.
  • Park safely. Anticipate limited parking availability during the holiday shopping period, particularly on Black Friday. When returning to your vehicle, always stop, listen and look around. Be alert of your surroundings at all times and avoid distractions like talking on the phone or texting. Have your keys readily available before you get to your vehicle.
  • Obey traffic laws. Drive the speed limit and stop at stop signs. Be mindful of pedestrians- particularly children and the elderly. Never walk in the middle of a traffic lane or jaywalk.

What are some safety tips for businesses and retailers to remember this Black Friday?

  • Plan for Success. Consider collaborating with local law enforcement for ideas about security. Unlike giant retailers, small businesses do not have a bottomless pit of inventory. Small businesses should be reminded just how important it is to protect their inventory and supplies from burglaries during the holiday season. Make sure your store’s security system is operating properly.
  • Manage crowds with care. Plan for and implement adequate crowd-control to properly manage the increased number of shoppers.
  • Maintain vigilance. Remember to be vigilant in understanding the crowds and their temperament. Address conflicts early and do not hesitate to contact your local police department if an argument begins to escalate.
  • Be aware of overworked employees. During the holiday season, it is easy for employees to become overworked. Be aware of the injuries your employees may face. The most costly workplace injuries are those that are not anticipated. Employee injuries like slips, trips and falls can occur when there is unnecessary clutter in the store. Repetitive motion injuries can occur as a result of employees’ constantly having to restock shelves and clean up behind shoppers.
  • Prevent store entrance chaos. Consider developing “time specific entrance passes” designed to allow shoppers to enter your store at a specific time. This can help ensure an organized and safe entry into your business.
  • Be aware of “intense” shoppers. Customers are a business’ lifeblood. However, be aware that some customers take the Black Friday shopping experience to another level. Black Friday sales have triggered trampling deaths, serious fights and property damage. If a customer in your store is injured, you and your business could end up in a serious lawsuit.
  • Consider product placement. Instead of stacking store items high upon shelves, consider handing out vouchers. This will help mitigate in-store accidents, crowding on shelves and shopper aggression.
  • Keep a clean store. Large crowds will create an even larger mess for retailers. Store merchandise and spilled liquids left on the floor can create a safety hazard for shoppers and a liability for businesses. Monitor your store throughout the day and make sure clean up is a top priority.
  • Prepare your parking. Make sure your parking lot / area is equipped with adequate lighting and security. Consider having a store worker escort shoppers to their vehicles.

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Copyright © Michael T. Gibson, P.A. 2020