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Black Friday 2016: What’s in Store?

With Thanksgiving just a little over a month away, many are thinking about their travel plans, their dinner menus and their shopping strategies for the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday (November 26). They are considering the purchase of big ticket items, whether a new TV, laptop or smartphone, and they are looking for the best possible deals in stores and online.

In anticipation of the annual event, retailers are making final preparations to meet consumer demand and contend with the crowds in general. They are hiring seasonal personnel, and stocking store shelves and racks to capacity (and then some). They are beefing up security, physical and, especially virtual, in order to head off any potential problems.

Many retailers are also fine-tuning their business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plans to ensure their readiness in the event of a disruption. And, they are doing so for good reason. Black Friday is big business all across the country.

According to the National Retail Federation, sales in November and December are expected to increase a healthy 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion. That’s significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent and above the seven-year average of 3.4 percent since recovery began in 2009. Online sales should increase between 7 and 10 percent to as much as $117 billion. It’s no wonder retailers are now doing everything possible to ensure their success.

In recent years Black Friday has merged into Thanksgiving evening and, in some cases, afternoon. There’s been a lot of debate about the trend. Some object to employees having to work that night, while some workers love getting paid double or triple time.

The controversy has many national stories announcing that they will keep their doors closed on Thanksgiving this year, making Black Friday an even more significant event for retailers.* **

For smart retailers, communication is top of mind. Not just for advertising and promotions, but for business resilience should the unthinkable—a massive snowstorm, a blackout, a major security breach, an earthquake, a terrorist attack—occur.

Whether you rely on manual methods (call trees) or an emergency notification service, there are several things you can do to safeguard your employees, your customers and your organization this Black Friday and beyond. These simple, proactive measures include:

  • Updating emergency contact information using HR databases or a Self-Registration Portal, if available
  • Obtaining personal phone numbers, email addresses, etc. for employees, if allowed, so you can better account for them, or communicate with family members, in a large-scale event
  • Testing communication with small groups, or better yet everyone, if time permits
  • Including vendors, suppliers and other stakeholders in your notification strategy
  • Making employees aware of your business continuity plan, and ensuring they know the appropriate actions to take in an emergency
  • Providing notification recipients a source for additional information (e.g., status updates, return-to-work instructions, etc.), either through secondary alerts, portals or message boards
  • Determining gaps and making improvements where possible over the next three weeks (and planning for others in the future)

Yes, time is short between now and Black Friday 2016. But, it’s time that all of us—retailers and consumers alike—can (and should) use to better prepare for what many consider to be the biggest shopping day of the year.