Dave Whittle, CEO at Positive Response, discusses the Black Friday sales in his latest blog for Infologue.com. Dave writes: “The crazed phenomenon known as the Black Friday sales leapt across the pond, from the US to the UK, back in 2013, and since then the news during Christmas shopping months has been awash with stories of fighting between desperate shoppers and riots breaking out in supermarkets.
“And with analysts predicting that this year’s sale, on the 25th November, will contribute to the UK’s first ever £5 billion shopping week, retailers need to be prepared for an onslaught of bargain hunters. Many businesses will employ extra staff and extend opening hours to handle the large volume of sales, however, the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and customers should be the priority – not quick sales.
“In the previous three years’ sales, shop owners and managers have implemented a number of methods and procedures to reduce the chance of an incident occurring. Some have invested in extra security to deter and deal with any aggressive behaviour, while others have come to rely on the extra police force that is drafted in. Last year, Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland and Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley claimed that Black Friday placed an unnecessary drain on police resources, and called for a boycott of the event.
“In one bold move, supermarket giant Asda, who was responsible for bringing the concept to the UK, boycotted Black Friday and chose not to offer any special discounts in 2015. And they were not alone in the decision, with Next and Jigsaw also choosing not to take part.
“However, if the Duty of Care to shoppers and staff is top of the agenda, and a responsible and robust security and safety solution is in place, businesses should be able to manage the annual event. The health, safety and wellbeing of permanent and temporary staff must be a key aspect of the security plan, particularly for those who will be working longer hours. Not only must they be reassured that their safety is a priority, they must be adequately prepared by management for the Black Friday sales.
“Last year, Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police Sue Fish urged retailers and managers to ensure they had sufficient security arrangements in place and they would be able to cope with the demand generated by the sales. And, while this year we are yet to see such warnings, retailers shouldn’t become complacent. Fish also added that: “The police will intervene if necessary to protect public order and safety, but we should be the service of last resort, not a substitute for carefully considered in-store security plans.”
“Managers must take responsibility for their staff and customers safety, as is their Duty of Care. They should consider providing training in managing anti-social and aggressive behaviour; and a system that provides staff with the means of raising an alarm quickly and easily – covertly if necessary – when exposed to threatening situations.
“Black Friday doesn’t have to be an event we approach with bated breath, plagued with thoughts of what could go wrong. Retailers simply need to prioritise health, safety and wellbeing ahead of making sales, and ensure they put a robust system in place. Many organisations will already have a holistic solution in place, and Black Friday will be something they are prepared for”.