NRF issues crowd management guidelines

With the holiday shopping season set to begin next month with the post-Thanksgiving sales day known as "Black Friday," the National Retail Federation has released its 2011 Crowd Management Guidelines to help retailers manage large crowds.

In addition to providing information that highlights the components of a comprehensive crowd management plan, the NRF has added information to this year’s guidelines to include new insights on multiple offender crimes, such as flash mobs and organized events or protests.

These insights include; recent examples of flash mob activity (both criminal and comedic); an appendix that retailers can use to help train store employees on to how to respond to flash mobs; and, how to handle celebrity appearances and organized events such as "Occupy Wall Street."

"Many families make holiday shopping an important tradition, and retailers’ main goal is to make that experience a safe and pleasant one," NRF Senior Asset Protection Advisor Joe LaRocca said in a statement. "Crowd management is not taken lightly for retailers, who plan ahead for months in anticipation of large events with practice runs, a well-trained staff, and a thorough analysis of the company and its customers."

The guidelines also differentiate between planning for crowds in relation to a sales event versus preparing for an emergency situation. In preparing for unexpected events, the NRF recommends that retailers consider evacuation plans, communication plans, law enforcement/public official engagement, reunification, and preservation of evidence.

Click here to read the full list of guidelines.