Thanksgiving is just three days away! And, while many people are preparing for the arrival of family and friends to join them as they sit around to enjoy a mouthwatering turkey dinner with all the fixings, many others are gearing up to kick-start the holiday shopping season off.
According to the yearly National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, an estimated 25.6 million people will hit the stores in an effort to purchase electronics, toys and clothing at some of the year’s best prices. This is down from last year’s figures as approximately 44.8 million consumers shopped in 2013.
However, for consumers to actually purchase the best deals they seek, they’ll have to brave “Gray Thursday’s” madness knowing that there are a limited number of items available for the advertised price and that they’re definitely not the only one who wants one (or two for that matter).
Although the total number of shoppers expected this year is down from last year, it is still big enough for retailers to take some necessary precautions, including following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recommendations.
“OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple safety guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees.” This according to David Michaels, assistant labor secretary. Each store’s crowd management plan should include the following:
- On-site security guards
- An emergency plan in the event something goes wrong.
- Safety barricades surrounding the entrances of the store.
- Limits on how many customers may enter the store at one time.
Another way retailers are making their stores safer is by staggering their sales. What this means for consumers is that the prices advertised at 6:00 p.m. are only good for a specified amount of time – typically until the next round of sales begin, which in most cases is 8:00 p.m.
In the name of competition, Walmart is practicing yet another subtle – but extremely clever – form of crowd control by incentivizing their brick-and-mortar customers with “One Hour Guarantees.” They are thus far the only retailer to offer this incentive.
Consumers that arrive during a specified one hour window will be awarded with the door buster regardless of whether they run out of stock or not. Knowing that you’re guaranteed to receive the item 2 weeks prior to Christmas really alleviates much of the stress associated with the evening.
As does knowing that nothing in life goes according to plan. So if you’re one of those brave souls that will venture out in pursuit of some great deals remember to breathe and know that while this year’s Black Friday shows much potential to boost the economy; nothing trumps safety on Black Friday.