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Written By: Amy Neuschafer
Collins & Lacy, P.C.
Columbia, SC

Black Friday Preparedness Advisory for Retailers

How to Keep Your Business on the Nice List:
Tips for Holiday Shopping Crowd Control

Effective crowd management should be a year-round priority for retailers, but Black Friday and the ensuing holiday shopping season elevates the importance of crowd control.  According to a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, as many as 140 million Americans plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend, with 97 million planning to shop on Black Friday alone.  To help manage the risk presented by the influx of people, the NRF has released its Effective Crowd Management Guidelines.  Although these guidelines are useful for special events and promotions held throughout the year, they are particularly helpful in preparing for the busy holiday season. The guidelines provide detailed recommendations, but here are a few general considerations to minimize potential issues:

  • Proactively plan and prepare for special events.
  • Have an emergency plan in place to address potential dangers, such as overcrowding, aggressive shoppers, violence, and unexpected natural disasters.
  • Clearly communicate event details to employees and customers through the use of signage, stanchions/barriers, public announcements, and tickets or wristbands for limited or first-come, first-serve items.
  • Strategically place sale items throughout the store to disperse the crowd and better manage traffic flow.
  • Designate knowledgeable employees solely to communicate with customers and attempt to resolve issues.
  • Contact local law enforcement if large crowds are expected and arrange for additional security personnel.
  • Review relevant policies and procedures with employees and advise them who to contact in the event of a situation.
  • Train employees about event details and promotional items, including merchandise placement and timing of special/hourly promotions.

The NRF is a respected industry organization. A customer involved in a personal injury or loss prevention-type incident could rely on the NRF guidelines as evidence of the standard of care in a lawsuit.  Therefore, it’s important to manage risk from the outset by being familiar with the guidelines and incorporating them into your special event, promotion or operating procedures where appropriate.

The NRF’s Effective Crowd Management Guidelines can be found at

Amy Neuschafer focuses in retail and hospitality law at Collins & Lacy, P.C., a statewide South Carolina defense firm that represents some of the largest national and regional leaders in the hotel, restaurant and bar, department store and specialty retail sectors operating in the Palmetto State.  For more information about Collins & Lacy, please visit The International Society of Primerus Law Firms.