Those who own or rent properties are responsible for making sure those facilities are safe, especially when owners or renters are doing commercial business out of the building. For example, retail store owners need to ensure their premises is safe for customers inside and outside of their store. This is important year round, but it can be especially essential during Black Friday and during other big holiday shopping days like Christmas Eve.
Stores are expected to take all reasonable steps necessary to provide security for the safety of guest who come to shop. This means stores should inspect their premises on a routine basis in order to identify possible hazards, which the store should then correct if possible or should warn visitors about if no correction is feasible. Identifying hazards includes not just making sure there are no broken tiles, slippery floors, or broken stair railings that could cause a fall. Stores also need to assess threats of violence or risks of out-of-control crowds and should make a determination on what steps, if any, must be done to protect visitors.
Although violence and crowd control can be concerns year round, these concerns are exacerbated during the holiday season. Over the course of the holidays, many people go shopping with lots of cash with them and they purchase lots of gifts. Thieves know there are lots of people out and about with money and shopping bags, and these criminals can wait in parking lots and even in isolated areas of malls in order to target shoppers. A holiday shopper could be mugged and have his or her money and gifts stolen. If a personal injury happens during the theft and if the store was negligent in providing reasonable security to prevent the incident, the store could be held accountable.
Another big risk is the injury that could result from big crowds. Two of the biggest shopping days of the year include Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) and Christmas Eve. If stores become very crowded, people could be trampled or otherwise injured due to the crush of the crowd. Black Friday can also result in violence as shoppers compete to try to buy items they want. This is an especially big concern if the store offers deals, like door buster deals, and there are limited quantities so people fight for them. NY Daily News reported on the five worst things to have happened on Black Friday, and the report included people being trampled to death; pepper spray injuries; and stabbings and shootings.
Stores need to be prepared for crowds, especially if they are going to encourage them by putting out Black Friday sales flyers that entice large groups to come in for doorbuster items. It is the job of the retail establishment to provide crowd control in order to prevent injuries and fatalities from happening.