This Friday will herald the third Black Friday since the sales event began in the UK in 2013. While other security service providers are urging retailers to consider their security approach, Positive Response, a leader in the research and development of remote safety monitoring, is urging property and security managers not to forget their staff. Asda recently became the first major retailer in the UK to abandon the notoriously frenzied, one-day-sale and police chiefs, and even some MPs, have urged stores to cancel or boycott Black Friday.
The growing popularity of the event has raised a growing concern for customer safety. Yet, property and security managers must be aware that customers are not the only ones at risk if the flash sale descends into chaos. Many staff members have fallen victim to angry shoppers. In Irlam, Manchester, in 2014, a shopper admitted a public order offence for attacking Tesco staff in a ‘greed-fuelled rage’ and there have been several reported accidents where staff have been pushed, trapped, and injured during the sales. In the USA, where the sales are longer established, a retail worker was trampled to death.
With many shops across the UK preparing for Black Friday by recruiting extra staff and extending their opening hours in preparation of the large volume of customers, David Whittle, CEO for Positive Response, leaders in remote safety monitoring, commented: “The Duty of Care to shoppers must be at the top of the agenda for Black Friday but the health and safety of permanent and temporary staff, many of whom will be working longer hours, must also be a focal point of the security plan. Staff need to be reassured that their safety is a priority. Even more so on Black Friday. Managers must consider giving staff extra support from security teams; 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 in the place of work.”
Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Sue Fish, reinforced the message: “I urge retail companies and their store managers to ensure that they have sufficient security arrangements in place to cope with demand for heavily-promoted sales.”
In call for a nationwide boycott earlier this year, Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland and Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley claimed the event placed an unnecessary drain on police resources, yet UK shoppers are expected to spend over £1.3 billion across the day this Black Friday.