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'Tis the season for holiday shopping. That’s good news for retailers – in 2018, retailers saw their best holiday shopping season in six years.
However, when the hordes descend, you also have to deal with a different set of concerns: the safety of your shoppers, employees, and guests.
The good news? You can spread the holiday cheer with limited stress and maximum safety. The key is learning to plan ahead. Here are a few essential tips to master holiday safety for retail businesses.
Implement Crowd Management
The shoppers are coming, the shoppers are coming! A lot of them. And while your store is designed for some traffic management, you likely won’t see crowds this massive any other time of year.
As such, you have to be ready to put crowd management into action (before the hordes descend).
The best place to start is by mapping out your store. Take a look at how traffic flows. You probably also know where traffic tends to get blocked, so mark those areas as well. You should also mark areas that are likely to see high traffic, usually the spots where popular items are located. You should also mark essential locations like entrances, exits, and fire extinguishers.
Having this map will make it easier to place equipment, fixtures, and staff. If needed, you can rearrange your store’s layout and merchandise to improve traffic flow.
You should also take steps to prevent your store from becoming overcrowded. The fire department has already told you the maximum safe occupancy of a room. If you’re worried that you may exceed this number, some stores stagger customer entry to better manage the crowds.
Hire Early, Train Thoroughly
However, these measures rely on assistance from your on-site staff. The trick, of course, is that many retailers significantly increase their on-site staff with temporary holiday hires. This leaves you in a tricky balancing act. You need extra staff, but you also need to know that your staff is prepared to handle the rush.
The best way to approach this problem is to hire early and train rigorously. No staff is exempt from this training, especially security and safety training, but new hires should be trained with extra attention. It may cost you a bit more and require some finagling to manage a larger shift staff, but you’ll be grateful for the advance preparation when the holidays hit and it's all-hands-on-deck.
Invest in Theft Prevention
Finally, while this is the season of giving, not every person in the holiday crowd is looking for a deal on the perfect gift. Unfortunately, when the holiday shopping season surges, organized retail crime takes advantage of the uptick, costing retailers a record-high $777,877 per $1 billion in sales in 2018.
When you bulk up your staff for the holidays, make sure to bulk up your anti-theft measures as well. Merchandising security tools like shelf locks and electronic tags are essential equipment, but camera systems, signage, and mirrors are equally important in spotting and stopping theft.
However, make sure to be on the lookout for internal theft as well. This starts in the hiring process. Every new employee should go through a background check, especially if they’re expected to handle sensitive information or customer money. You should also be careful about setting user permissions on your point-of-sale systems.
If you take early steps to invest in holiday safety at your retail store, you can spread the holiday cheer, see the benefits in your bottom line, and keep your staff safe. Now that’s what we call happy holidays.
If you need more holiday safety tips, make sure to check out this post on workplace safety tips for holiday parties.
Featured Resource: How the Retail Industry Can Improve Safety and Security Processes
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