Two businesses which generally tend to experience a big increase in business over the holiday season are retail stores and restaurants. Retail stores, of course, benefit from holiday shoppers buying holiday gifts for friends and loved ones. Restaurants also see more patrons as people entertain friends and family and celebrate the season.
While this can be great news for businesses, it is also important that these restaurants and stores can keep up with the increased demand while also keeping their customers safe. If a retail establishment or restaurant fails to provide adequate protection for patrons, it can be held accountable if and when injuries happen.
Stores and restaurants have a basic obligation to maintain a safe premises, to identify risks and hazards, and to correct problems or warn consumers about issues. Unfortunately, this can be difficult for retail and restaurant owners to do successfully during the holiday season.
As stores and restaurants are experiencing their boom time, they may find their seasoned and experienced staff cannot keep up with demand. This can result in a need for temporary and seasonal workers. These seasonal workers may not have as much knowledgeable about how to keep the store clean, keep inventory out of walkways, or keep food fresh and healthy in restaurants. If a retail store falls into disarray or if problems with food sanitation and safety develop, the consequences can be dire.
According to Centers for Disease Control, approximately one out of six Americans will get a foodborne illness that makes them sick over the course of the year. About 3,000 victims of foodborne illnesses die, and as many as 128,000 people are hospitalized. If a restaurant is responsible for sickening its patrons who came in for a holiday meal, that restaurant could potentially be held responsible for the consequences. This could mean a lawsuit against the restaurant or an out-of-court settlement which leaves the restaurant paying for damages.
Stores, too, could be sued if they don't maintain a safe space for visitors. Stores have to make sure walkways are kept clear and inventory isn't stored in such a way as to present hazards to visitors. A store may also need to evaluate any potential threats of violence during the holidays and must take appropriate precautions including implementing necessary security measures. If a store is going to have special events, such as Black Friday sales promotions, then the store will need to have crowd-control professionals present so they make sure none of their patrons are trampled or victimized by violence while they are shopping.
Stores and restaurants need to understand what their obligations are under premises liability laws so they can do what is expected of them. If these establishments fulfill their obligations, hopefully fewer people will be hurt this holiday season.