We are talking about a downside to Christmas shopping. Retailers often find themselves conflicted: How do we create exciting opportunities to bring lots of shoppers into the store without putting our employees or our customers in harm’s way? Creating a stampede for a tablet computer special would be great, but ….
Managers and executives took an extra-hard look at the safety factor after the 2008 death of a Wal-Mart worker. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation resulted in a $7,000 fine for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The agency noted that Wal-Mart’s crowd control plan and procedures were less than adequate. OSHA also noted that Wal-Mart had not provided its employees with adequate training.
Wal-Mart has appealed the fine, but the company took the agency’s report to heart. Management brought in experts to help design effective crowd management systems shortly after the worker’s death. Simple steps, like the use of a One-Hour Guarantee, have resulted in a noticeable shift in how customers approach shopping and move through the stores. The guarantee gives shoppers in the store within an hour of an event the option to purchase the item that day or another day before Christmas. With the guarantee, shoppers no longer rush to the pile of big-screen televisions and shove their way to the front of the line.
Other chains have their own crowd management tools, many of which, like Wal-Mart’s guarantee, reward customers for arriving early without forcing them to rush for any given item. Big chains like Target and shopping malls have also extended their crowd control systems to their parking lots. By upping the security detail outside the stores, the merchants and mall management kill two turtle doves with one stone: Guards and off-duty police officers not only help with traffic flow, but their presence also lets shoppers know right from the start that bad behavior will not be tolerated.
The holidays may be the busiest time of the year for retailers, but retailers — from the Targets and Wal-Marts of the world to the family-owned candy store on the corner — know that there are no door-buster deals or guarantees if there’s an accident on their property. They know, too, that an experienced premises liability attorney can help if something does happen that will dampen someone’s holiday cheer.
Source: Insurance Journal, “Retailers Step Up Security as ‘Rambunctious’ Holiday Shopping Begins,” Cotten Timberlake and Renee Dudley, Dec. 1, 2013