YARMOUTH, Maine Dec 5 2012—The more than 80 million shoppers who flocked to stores on Black Friday posed fewer crowd management problems for retailers, a welcome change from past years when employees and customers have been injured by rambunctious bargain-hunters and worse.
That can be chalked up to increased preparation and security and more communication by store security, said Rich Mellor, vice president for loss prevention for the National Retail Federation, which recently released its 2012 Effective Crowd Management Guidelines. “Better planning and looping in the right people made this Black Friday go much better than previous ones.
Advanced conversation now takes place with law enforcement so that they show up at the proper times versus running in after an incident takes place,” Mellor told Security Director News.
The NRF guidelines encourage retailers to take those steps in addition to sharing information with other mall tenants and making sure the expected customer turnout is not underestimated. Shoppers were more disciplined, too. “They seemed committed to shopping rather than arguing with each other,” he said.
This year’s Thursday-night openings helped take the edge off. Shoppers bound and determined to snatch up a specific bargain didn’t have to wait to burst through store doors after waiting in line all night. Videos he watched showed more appropriate door-openings, Mellor said. Stores had multiple employees letting the crowds in in an orderly fashion. That, combined with the visible presence of security personnel at the doors and throughout the stores, made a difference. Also, “it was clear in many cases that law enforcement was chaperoning the malls,” he said.
The International Council of Shopping Centers estimated that more than 80 million bargain hunters were out Friday, twice as many as on Thanksgiving, and sales were brisk. More than $59 billion in sales were processed Thursday through Sunday, an NRF survey found, up from last year’s $52.4 billion.
“There are always one-off incidents here and there,” Mellor said. “Line busting is still something that stores will always have to contend with. Someone butts in line and others get angry and there were a couple instances were people got out of control with that, but I didn’t hear the drama, people pulling out weapons, that has occurred in previous years.” A suspect was arrested for firing a handgun into the ceiling of a Target store in Aurora, Colo., on Black Friday, but he wasn’t a shopper.
He allegedly was looking to rob the store’s pharmacy of drugs, news reports said. “All things considered, it’s obvious that better planning made this Black Friday a success. Otherwise, we would have plenty of incidents to talk about,” Mellor said.
Source:Security Director News