Keep Calm & Queue 

It’s just a matter of months since #bekind was trending on social media – how different the World is now. 

After 3 months of lockdown and a series of events across the World, tensions are running high and emotions are bubbling much closer to the surface. 

We’re now edging closer to non-essential businesses and retailers opening their doors to the public and the new normal will see minimal numbers of people allowed in shops which will inevitably result in long queues. 

Who can forget the images of IKEA in Warrington and the tailbacks when MacDonalds reopened it’s drive-thrus!? 

While queues are jokingly referred to as ‘typically British’, it’s becoming clear that they are also a breeding ground for anger and frustration. 

Throughout the lockdown period Police patrols had to be deployed to some pharmacies as deterrents amid mounting day-to-day tensions, scuffles in and incidents including the theft of one Midlands’ pharmacy’s stock by masked raiders. 

In a recent article in The Guardian, one pharmacist said

“We’re doing our best, the NHS is doing its best and this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable,” this came where police were called after a customer smashed a glass door and threatened to kill staff. 

Staff in major high-street chains too have experienced the wrath of stressed customers. Boots even launched a #prescribekindness campaign aimed at encouraging kind behaviour. 

It’s not just pharmacies that have been affected, we are constantly hearing stories from our store detectives and retail security guards about violent incidents and aggressive behaviour both inside and outside of stores as they try to enforce social distancing guidelines. 

Moving forward, a major problem facing retail bosses is how to manage large queues and deal with any conflict. 

Many stores will be using a member of staff who might normally work on the tills or in the backroom – workers who aren’t trained in conflict management or safe physical intervention which can leave them at risk of injury or assault and the retailer at risk of legal action. 

For example, how would you handle having your hair pulled and being spat on by a member of the public all because you’re doing your job and trying to keep people safe and protected? 

What about having a trolley thrown at you (yes, a trolley) because you won’t allow someone into the shop until at least another has left in order to follow guidelines. 

More so, how would you feel if this happened to one of your teenage staff who have had no training and have no security back up on-site? 

These are situations that have happened to security officers and store workers in the last few weeks. 

Maybe it’s time to consider bringing in professional security guards who can work with you to implement the correct safety procedures and are also highly qualified and trained in areas such as conflict management, physical intervention and crowd control. 

They know how to manage flow and have the experience and know-how to deal with disruptive groups or individuals and can manage a situation in a calm, professional and safe manner. 

The implications on using your general workforce to cope in these situations are massive; 

  • Should they get injured they will need time off work and you could be liable 
  • Think about the implications on their mental wellbeing 
  • What would happen if that one person makes one wrong move and a member of the public ends up injured? 
  • What if the worst happened and the footage ends up (as it invariably does) on social media? 

Is it worth risking your reputation and the safety of your workforce? 

So as you prepare to reopen in whatever capacity you can, maybe give some thought to how you will manage the crowd flow as people start to re-emerge and spend. 

The cost could be a lot more than the cost of a trained security professional! 

Let us know what plans you have in place and how you’ve found adapting to the new measures in the comments below. 


** SOURCE FOR ARTICLE: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/02/uk-pharmacists-facing-abuse- and-violence-during-coronavirus-lockdown 

Warrington Ikea Queue Image Source – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8376325/The-REAL-test-IKEA-Flat-pack-fans-form-giant-queues-furniture-store-reopens-Wembley.html