Commercial insurer NFU Mutual is warning retailers across the UK against complacency when taking part in Black Friday.
NFU Mutual retail sector specialist Frank Woods said: “Black Friday is one of the biggest money-making opportunities of the year for retailers, yet last year saw the participation of fewer sellers, partly in response to the chaotic supermarket scraps and cyber attacks of 2014. While the largest retailers drive the event and are perceived as most at risk, smaller outfits shouldn’t shy away from an otherwise missed sales opportunity – and equally shouldn’t be complacent about potential issues.
“All retailers have a higher duty of care if using advertising to invite the public in store for a special event, such as Black Friday. There are the obvious risks associated with having too many people in store – stores should develop a risk management plan to help prevent slips and trips as well as ensuring that their public liability cover is sufficient. There could also be losses to stock due to accidental breakages, or even theft if shoplifters seize the opportunity to strike while staff and management are busy.”
One method to manage the potential additional footfall is additional staff.
“Bringing in extra staff to cater for higher customer numbers is a great idea to ensure the safety of customers and make the most of sales opportunities,” Frank commented. “Make sure though that they are trained in health and safety procedures such as where emergency exits are situated and first aid administration so that they are prepared in the event of an accident.
“Many retailers choose to open out of hours to entice Black Friday shoppers in early. This can lead to customers arriving in their droves at the same time, so if planning to open at unusual hours there should be a safe place for customers to queue, and management should consider hiring extra security, particularly if opening at night.”
Making the most of the online enthusiasm for Black Friday is another key element, but retailers should be wary of cyber crime, Frank noted.
“With many customers choosing to take advantage of deals from the comfort of their home, office or via their smartphone, cyber crime is also a growing risk on Black Friday with hackers hoping to access data or cause disruption,” he said. “Cyber crime can affect any business and is continually changing in nature, and retailers should always ensure that they have plans in place to handle an attack. Businesses should check whether their core insurance or cyber policy includes the costs of an interruption to the business as a result of a cyber attack.
“No matter the size of the business, all retailers should be properly prepared for every eventuality in advance of Black Friday to ensure a smooth and successful event.”