Thursday, April 8, 2010
Crowd Control for Retail Sales Events Such As Black Friday
Since Black Friday has become the shopping “Superbowl” for retailers, their need to attract large crowds has increased over the last five years. With this, has come a lack of preparation to control the throngs of people gathering before stores open, leading to horrific accidents and deaths as crowds stampede the doors to take advantage of the advertised sales. New crowd control strategies need to be implemented by retailers as these events get larger.
And we are not just talking about Black Friday events. As large crowds have shown us in the past, this now includes events like a new cell phone model introduced by Apple or the recent introduction of a new Blackberry, where crowds of people camp out over night to be the first in line, or a special promotion to generate foot traffic through the store. The recent crowds gathered for these events dictate a new focus needs to be taken on crowd control by retailers, not just in the store, but outside the store prior to opening.
Today, many businesses are currently implementing crowd control lines and queues at the checkout counter. These queues organize customers into lines that control the orderly checkout for sale merchandise and the exiting from the store. Now, stores need to focus on pre-sales opening crowds.
Here are some strategies to help you…
1) Create properly identified barricade areas and lines away from the store doors. Use stanchions or steel barricades to mark off queuing areas. Properly mark off these areas so arriving customers know where to line up. Make sure this queue is set up away from your entry point and does not block your exit from the store.
2) When lines grow, make sure you have the proper number of employees and security personnel directing arriving customers into a queue. Security guards should be staffed outside in the parking lots hours before the store opens for large sales to organize and manage growing crowds.
3) Security should be staffed inside the store as well to provide support for large crowds once the store opens.
4) Control your crowds early…for instance, 10 hours ahead of a 5 a.m. opening, hand out tickets or bracelets to get in the store.
5) Closer to opening time, give out a limited number of vouchers for specific specials. Customers who don’t get a voucher may leave, thus thinning out your opening crowds. Or you can offer them a second set of vouchers to come back the next day, thus spreading out your crowds over several days.
6) Once shoppers start entering the store, only allow a certain number of shoppers into the store at one time, allowing an orderly flow of people into the store and managing your in-store crowds.
7) Make sure proper queues are set up in-store and clearly marked to manage your checkout process and keep the customers moving out of your store in an orderly fashion.
8) Hiring off-duty police officers for big sales in recommended. Make sure you have notified your local police precinct that you expect a large crowd ahead of time.
For more information on crowd control or to help you develop a plan, contact us at 631-367-2005