Managing the significant increase in store traffic during the holiday season is a challenge for many shopping mall administration teams. Maintaining a pleasant shopping experience for their visitors, ensure crowd control, identify suspicious behaviors and quickly defuse possible incidents must be among the priorities of your shopping mall’s security program. That’s why our retail security experts share 5 essential security tips to increase safety in shopping malls during Black Friday.
1. Provide situational awareness and security trainings to shopping mall’s personnel
Your shopping mall personnel includes valet staff, cleaners, information desk employees, and, to some extent, everyone who works at a retail store.
Threats your shopping mall personnel usually face are not severe. Yet, it’s important that they are trained to take appropriate actions in higher-risk scenarios to ensure everyone’s safety. Your people should understand:
- How to screen the area around them when arriving and leaving the shopping mall
- When to not be alarmed and resume normal mall operations
- How to securely move cash if need be during Black Friday
- When and how to advise other staff of a threat
- How to effectively report any suspicious or unusual activity to the mall security team and/or 911, with valuable descriptions or photos of the suspect(s)
- How to address visitors’ questions and redirect them in the event of the shopping mall closing
2. Adapt shopping mall’s opening and closing procedures
Because shopping mall hours are fixed, it’s easy for those with nefarious intentions to scope out and surveil the mall and its operations. —including when staff and security arrive and leave.
For Black Friday, you should maintain your mall’s usual opening and closing times but have your employees arrive on site two hours prior and the retailers’ employees one hour before. This will ensure better preparedness as your people and stores’ staff can successively settle in, inspect and finalize preparing their work space for the busy day ahead. So that when your shopping mall opens, it’s staffed with people mentally ready to monitor crowds and detect potential perpetrators.
In the event of the shopping mall closing, tenants and visitors should be informed and evacuated as fast as possible. Your shopping mall personnel should put signs on all the mall’s doors to alert potential visitors. Your website and social media should also mention it.
3. Ensure that security equipment and procedures are planned on time for Black Friday
Your shopping mall’s security team plays a crucial role in keeping your staff, visitors and mall safe.
The frenzy of Black Friday requires additional tasks to be added to the mall’s security program, including equipment protocols and emergency procedures. Logistics should be discussed, documented and communicated to all members of your mall’s security team at least one week prior to Black Friday:
- Ensure there will be adequate and operational flashlights and radios prior to the mall opening
- Review procedures to report suspicious behavior, including visitors who wave at security cameras or wander into restricted areas
- Increase alertness within the team and emphasize the importance of fast emergency response
- Plan alternating patrol routes and times so potential criminals won’t be able to predict their patterns
4. Deploy additional security guards to patrol the premises of the shopping mall
Your security guards are your shopping mall’s first line of defense against potential threats: they are always on the lookout for suspicious activities and know how to quickly address security risks. Deploying additional security guards on Black Friday will enable your mall’s security team to:
- Patrol your entire mall prior to its opening to the public
- Staff one additional security patrol guard during your mall opening hours
- Staff two additional security patrol guards—one stationed at the food court, one patrolling the mall common areas (washrooms, parking, etc..)
- Staff one extra guard for outdoors patrols and an hourly check of the roof door and mechanical rooms
- After closing time, post guards at your shopping mall’s entrances to ensure no unauthorized persons re-enter
5. Pay special attention to high-risk areas during Black Friday
Washrooms: the private nature of a shopping mall’s washrooms makes them especially attractive to potential criminals, therefore important places to patrol.
Garbage bins are potential storages for stolen goods, weapons, explosives and suspicious packages, particularly during Black Friday special sales. To prevent garbage bins from being used for criminal purposes:
- Use clear plastic bags in waste bins as they are easy to search.
- Instruct security guards to visually check waste containers for weapons, explosives and suspicious packages.
- Remove all garbage bins near great concentrations of people, including line-ups and food courts. Replace them with wire small baskets containing clear plastic bags.
- Empty all garbage bins right before closing time
Your underground parking and other parking structures should be closely monitored by your shopping mall’s security team too—regardless of the threat the shopping center might be facing.
These 5 essential security tips to increase safety in shopping malls during Black Friday are a great place to start. There is still a lot more that you can review as part of your escalation plan—your mall activities, shipping and receiving, roof access and much more.
Not only should you put these tips into practice, but you should also ensure your teams are well informed so that they can be prepared to deal with any threat.
Be sure to download this white paper on 5 things you need before starting your escalation plan!