Preparing your Business for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a hectic time for consumers and businesses alike. While this often means higher profits for a small business, it also means seasonal employees, crowded stores, and more inventory. In fact, during this time, stores face a variety of risks related to theft, workplace safety, and property damage.

Depending on your type of business, there are things you should consider doing to prepare for holiday shoppers. Here are some general tips that can help you maintain a safe and productive business this holiday season:

  • Maintain good housekeeping practices—Slips, trips and falls are common hazards businesses face every month of the year. However, things like extra foot traffic, additional inventory, and inclement weather conditions can increase their likelihood. To protect your staff and patrons:
    • Keep floors clean, dry, and in good condition
    • Ensure aisles, exits, and entrances remain clear of product and other hazards
    • Complete a general check of the sales floor regularly, looking for potential hazards
    • Keep entryways, exits, and walkways free of ice and snow
    • Address spills in a timely fashion
  • Store product in a careful and organized manner—Injuries can often be caused by falling inventory or crowded stockrooms. Improperly stored, heavy products that hit customers or employees can create serious liability concerns and lead to significant injuries. To prevent hazards in your store:
    • Maintain appropriate inventory levels
    • Avoid overcrowding backrooms and other storage areas
    • Store heavy items closer to the ground
    • Encourage employees to use a ladder to reach things on high shelves
  • Account for employee-related risks—The holidays are a busy time, and hiring seasonal employees can help ease the burden. However, if you don’t properly train these individuals, it could lead to serious on-the-job accidents. What’s more, with expensive products lining your shelves, both full-time and temporary staff could be tempted to steal. To account for these and similar employee-related risks:
    • Ensure any new hires are familiar with their surroundings and responsibilities
    • Review daily transactions and security footage to help mitigate the risk of theft
    • Conduct background checks and give yourself enough time to onboard seasonal hires effectively
    • Pair new workers with experienced employees as often as possible
    • Train employees on safety concerns and provide them with the right tools for the job
    • Have policies and procedures in place that account for safety concerns, like workplace harassment and violence
  • Manage customer-related risks—The holiday season can stress customers, and it’s essential to ensure your business is safe for all shoppers. To maintain a calm and orderly shopping atmosphere:
    • Retrain all employees about your store’s emergency protocols
    • Use experienced and knowledgeable employees to help manage crowds and resolve potential conflicts
    • Place sale items strategically throughout the store to help disperse crowds and manage traffic flow
    • Hire on-site security staff
    • Educate employees on whom to contact in the event of an emergency
  • Choose your decorations carefully—During the holidays, it’s not uncommon for businesses to go all-out with displays and decorations. While this can brighten up a sales floor, misplaced decorations and inadequate safety procedures can create fire and other hazards. Keep the holidays merry by following a few best practices:
    • Avoid using combustible decorations
    • Store decorations away from sources of heat or ignition
    • Use extension cords properly and don’t overload them
    • Choose smart locations for any additional holiday displays that do not block emergency exit signs or doorways
    • Secure decorations appropriately, ensuring they will not tip over and that customers can easily navigate around them
Secure the Right Policy and Rest Assured this Holiday Season

The holidays can be a challenge for businesses, particularly from a risk management standpoint. In addition to proactively managing your exposures, securing the proper insurance can go a long way toward keeping your employees and customers safe.

As a member of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, you have access to a suite of products and insurances from Cowan Insurance Group. Our team of small business experts will work with you to ensure you get the right coverage for your business during the holidays and throughout the year. Learn more at

This post was written by Nick Goodfellow, Sales Consultant, Small Business Solutions, at Cowan Insurance Group.