Retailers warned against Black Friday complacency

Commercial insurer NFU Mutual is warning retailers across the UK against complacency when taking part in Black Friday.

Frank Woods, retail sector specialist at NFU Mutual, 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 cyberattacks 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.”

Frank said retailers have a higher duty of care when inviting the public to a special event such as Black Friday, because 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,” he advised.

“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.

“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.

“Make sure, though, that they are trained in health and safety procedures such the location of the emergency exits and first aid administration, so they are prepared in the event of an accident.”

He noted that many retailers choose to open at unusual hours to entice Black Friday shoppers in early and warned that this can lead to customers arriving in their droves at the same time, so there should be a safe place for them to queue – and management should consider hiring extra security, particularly if opening at night.

Retailers should ensure that there are enough car parking spaces available – or should be prepared to direct customers to alternative parking arrangements.

For online sales, he commented: “With many customers choosing to take advantage of deals from the comfort of their home, office or via their smartphone, cybercrime is a growing risk on Black Friday with hackers hoping to access data or cause disruption.

“Cybercrime can affect any business and is continually changing in nature, and retailers should always ensure they have plans in place to handle an attack.”

He recommended that businesses check whether their core insurance or cyber policy includes the costs of an interruption to the business as a result of a cyberattack.”

Frank concluded: “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.”

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