With Thanksgiving upon us this week, the holiday season is truly in full swing. This weekend will also see the return of Black Friday which has come to be unofficially known as the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Almost all stores throughout the US this Friday will come out with jaw dropping sales and early bird specials in a bid to attract consumers to their stores. Many people throughout the country will stand in line hours before a store is due to open, to grab the bargain of the year. For bargain hunters this is the biggest festival of the year, with 51% of consumers planning to go holiday shopping this Thanksgiving weekend.
That being said, for the stores themselves, this Friday is a far cry from the best day of the year. In this tough economic climate stores are being forced to open earlier and earlier in a bid to attract custom from competitors. Large chain stores such as Walmart, Toys R Us and Sears are opening earlier than ever this year, at 8pm on Thanksgiving night, in a bid to attract hard-core shoppers after they have finished their thanksgiving dinner. Black Friday originally got its name as it marked the date that retailers hoped would take their books out of the red and into the black. However, in recent years from a revenue perspective Black Friday has been disappointing for stores with the increase of online shopping and the decline in disposable income, with substantially more revenues actually being gained in the few days before Christmas. Yet, still Black Friday isn’t going anywhere.
Black Friday may be among one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year for deal hunters, but it's also the most treacherous and dangerous for commercial business owners. The combination of the early opening hours and enthusiastic crowds has made Black Friday an anxious day for retail store owners throughout the country. In recent years there have been several tragic incidents reported where innocent shoppers and employees have fallen victim to the hordes of shoppers attempting to secure the best bargains. In 2008, in a Walmart store, employee Jdimytai Damour, was trampled to death by the bargain hungry crowd, with four others, including a pregnant woman, having to be treated for injuries. Each year since there have been reports of violent incidents occurring outside stores throughout the country with reports of some women deploying pepper spray against rival bargain-hunters. In addition, unfortunately some individuals do not see Black Friday as a way to secure the best Christmas deals; they see it an opportunity to commit crimes. Along with all the honest holiday shoppers come thieves and scam artists waiting to take advantage of the large crowds and distracted employees. If you are not vigilant, the busiest shopping day of the year can also mean a big loss for your store due to thefts and robberies.
Netwatch advises store owners to take the necessary precautions to make ensure there store is kept safe and secure on Black Friday for all customers and employees, and for the bottom line.
- Many retailers often lack sufficient staff coverage during this time of the year and as a result products can slip through the doors unpaid. It is important that you have employed enough staff to manage the influx of customers, and potentially the queues that can build up outside.
- Make sure your products, especially those of high value, are secured and don’t leave it up to your busy retail staff to keep a close eye on things. Make sure all valuable assets and excess cash are secured in a safe.
- Keep valuables away from windows to deter any 'smash and grab' attacks.
- Securely lock all entrances and exits to your store when nobody is on the premises the night before. If you have grilles or shutters on doors and windows it is important that these are secured. If queues begin to build before opening hours it is vital that your building is securely shut to put off potential burglars.
- You may consider installing a monitored alarm system which issues audio warnings to deter against any antisocial behavior occurring outside of your premises.