Managing the Risks of Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving has become the high-profile shopping of the year. From unbelievable deals to special promotions, retailers across the country try to pack in as many customers as they can and move as many units as possible. It’s all about volume and the stores that can scan the most transactions are those that get the most rewards.

But such plans can create major safety hazards that lead to consumer injuries, major lawsuits and severe reputational damage. To shed some light on what stores can do to make sure their Black Fridays are remembered for revenue not regret, I emailed Kelly Brown, the retail/wholesale industry practice leader for Zurich Services Corporation, to ask the following questions.

What is the biggest risk retailers face on Black Friday?

Kelly Brown: A fatality or violent incident that would make national news. Damage to reputation and potentially a large workers compensation or general liability claim.

What types of safety and security issues should every store be sure to address?

Brown: Throughout its 100 years of insuring America, Zurich has helped identify and assess the types of risks to help keep retailers profitable and customers safe. Stores should be sure to address the following issues on Black Friday.

Have there been any serious legal or insurance claims related to Black Friday?

Brown: Yes. Family members of the employee who was fatality injured in 2008 have filed a wrongful death suit. There are numerous lawsuits each year as a result of persons getting injured during Black Friday openings or getting into conflicts with others over highly desirable merchandise.  

What one piece of advice do you have for any store trying to exploit the sales opportunities while avoiding the risks?

Brown: Retailers need to realize Black Friday deals could literally create “door busters.”  Have a plan in place.

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National Law Review, Volumess II, Number 326