Each year the frenzy of holiday shoppers storming retailers’ doors in Las Vegas on Black Friday means holiday dollars — and sometimes lawsuits. Last year in the U.S., 20 people were injured in one major retail store while two more were shot in a parking lot. With personal injury making the news on the biggest shopping day of the year, the likelihood of retailers being sued increases. The reality here is that injured parties and their lawyers will typically pursue legal action against the party most able to pay, and pay well. Because society sometimes seems geared toward pursuing even the most outrageous legal action, wise retailers look ahead to protect shoppers, and to protect themselves from facing lawsuits.
So what can savvy retailers do to make their shopping environment safe — and hopefully avoid lawsuits? One attorney advises to first be certain to have enough well trained staff on hand, for handling the customer traffic flow, sales transactions, and security. Even holiday hires should be sufficiently trained to make the day’s flood of business flow smoothly. Another good idea is to be sure to have proper signage, including exits being well marked. Providing clear signage so shoppers know where to move next will help with keeping crowds moving and reduce confusion and congestion in the store’s aisles, entrances, and departments.
To avoid stampedes as shoppers rush for the season’s hot items at discounted prices, some businesses have opted to provide tickets to purchase such items. This prevents mobs rushing in all at once, which can be dangerous and result in injuries.
Although businesses may be sued by anyone for virtually anything, including a customer who slips and falls anywhere on the property, being able to show in court that precautions were thought through and carried out can be helpful in proving the retailer did take appropriate measures to protect shoppers.
Source: Insurance Journal, “How Businesses Can Protect Against Black Friday Litigation,” Andrea Wells, Nov. 21, 2012