Tis Almost the Season…High Traffic = High Risk

Posted: October 6, 2016    |   Will Matty

With the holiday season fast approaching every retailer is gearing up for their busiest…and most challenging time of the year. More foot traffic. An influx of seasonal employees. Throw in winter weather conditions, and it really is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for the Asset Protection and Loss Prevention community!

Unfortunately, sales are not the only thing that increase over the holidays, and as retailers gear up to protect holiday shoppers, it is also timely to consider another item – Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Not only is SCA our country’s leading cause of death (equivalent to ten 737 crashes each day), it is also seasonal. Data from the National EMS Information System show that SCA strikes more often in December and January than any other month (6% and 17% above average):


As SCA does not discriminate by time or place, retailers should expect to see an increase in SCA incidents at their stores during the holiday shopping season. The increase in retail stores is also likely to be greater than elsewhere. Here’s why:

Obviously, customer traffic increases during the shopping season. According to a Bain / Foresquare report[1], during the holiday season, nearly 90% of retail sales happen in stores. The report also notes a 70% increase in foot traffic in the 2 weeks prior to Christmas:


In addition to this jump in shopper count, retailers also add more than 700,000 employees during the holiday season[2]. To put this in context, Target recently announced its 2016 holiday hiring plans, indicating an addition of 70,000 seasonal staff (an increase of roughly 20% based upon a total employee count of 341,000)[3].

So, as SCA spikes, retailers’ exposure to it is also growing due to seasonal increases in shopper and employee counts.

Obviously, safety is always job one, but interestingly, Bain / Foresquare also noted:[4]

  • 70% of customers reported worse service during the holidays than at other times of the year
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers stop doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service
  • Customers with bad experiences are also two times more likely to talk with friends and family about these negative interactions than they are to talk about positive ones

With 2 in 5 shoppers now expecting to find AEDs in the stores in which they shop[5], safety and the customer experience are tied more than ever before. So…as you’re preparing for Black Friday shoppers to battle each other for the latest fad toy, don’t overlook SCA

[1] http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/retail-holiday-newsletter-2015-2016-4.aspx

[2] https://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/challengers-seasonal-hiring-outlook-2016-shift-front-office-behind-scenes

[3] http://fortune.com/2016/09/12/target-holiday-hiring/

[4] http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/retail-holiday-newsletter-2015-2016-4.aspx

[5] Harris Interactive 2015

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