Flash Mobs and Black Friday: Retailers Prepare!
The term “flash mob” was coined in 2003 to describe a sudden, large-scale gathering of people in one specific location to perform an unusual and sometimes pointless act for a brief period of time. With the growing popularity of Facebook, Twitter and viral emails, flash mobs have grown much larger and, in some cases, dangerous.
Though most of these events are organized solely for the purpose of artistic expression or to merely entertain passers by, some flash mobs have become “flash robs” — where groups descend on stores and other venues to, in most cases, steal merchandise. These events can easily injure employees and customers and cause monetary loss through theft and damage to property. And the threat is real. In fact, Marsh recently released Responding to Flash Mob/Rob Events, which, among other things, outlines steps retailers should take before, during and after a flash mob event, such as:
- monitoring of social media websites to identify potential threats
- reviewing business interruption plans and insurance programs with regards to partial or full shutdown of a location
- providing training to employees related to disorderly conduct, assault, theft and looting
- developing internal and external communications plans before an event
- communicating frequently with local law enforcement
With Black Friday just two days away, the threat of flash robs is on the minds of retailers, and if it’s not, it should be. The National Retail Federation has compiled guidelines and protocols of more than 100 retail companies to better understand how to respond.
Now let’s take a look at three videos. The first is an example of a peaceful flash mob, the second is an example of a dangerous flash rob and the third is an analysis of the flash mob epidemic as a spiritual issue.