Stores make a good portion of their total annual profits on special shopping days during the holiday season, such as Black Friday and Christmas Eve when people tend to flock to the shops in search of gifts. Stores often run special sales or use promotional gimmicks in order to try to bring the crowds in.
With all of this added advertising and with the many special deals on offer, store employees may become overwhelmed with handling customers. Stores tend to add lots of inventory so they don't run out of those items that are in demand, further taxing employees who have to deal with a host of important tasks that go along with receiving, storing and sorting so much stock.
Stores Have a Responsibility to Prevent Holiday Accidents
The conditions created in stores during the holiday season can become dangerous for those consumers who are out doing their holiday shopping. Possible risks these consumers face include:
- Debris in aisles: Crowds of shoppers could spill items or pull things off shelves. Store employees may not notice or have time to clean up as they help paying customers.
- Slippery floors: Crowds of customers can come in with wet clothing and wet shoes and can make floors of retail stores and malls very slippery. This could result in a slip and fall incident occurring.
- Items falling onto customers: Stacked inventory to meet holiday demand could create a precarious situation where items fall onto customers and cause harm.
- Problems with crowd control: Each year, injuries and even deaths happen on Black Friday. Deaths can happen when people get out of control in an attempt to get bargains. Someone could be trampled by a big crowd of shoppers, pushed by someone trying to get to a bargain, or could become involved in an altercation over an in-demand product.
- Acts of violence: There are opportunistic people who will rob shoppers during the holiday shopping season. Sometimes, thieves will turn to violence to try to acquire items from shoppers or when they are stealing from the store itself. In some cases, these acts of violence have turned deadly. If a person is hurt in a violent attack while shopping, it is possible this could be viewed as the responsibility of the store owner due to insufficient security.
These are just a few of the risks that can result in injuries or even fatalities at stores over the holidays. Retail stores inviting customers to come onto their property need to make certain they have appropriate plans in place to provide protection for those customers.
Premises liability laws dictate what the duty is that a store owner or operator owes to shoppers. If a store owner fails to fulfill that duty and injury is the result, victims and their families can hold the store accountable for the harm.