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Disaster Preparedness for Retail Stores
May 19, 2023
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Is your retail store ready to survive a disaster? Weather-related disasters cost the U.S. economy $91 billion in 2018 alone. In addition to hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, you need to prepare for smaller-scale disasters, such as a broken pipe that floods your store or an electrical fire that destroys your inventory. Any of these catastrophes can put your small business out of commission—possibly for good.  

According to FEMA, between 40 and 60 percent of small businesses that close due to a natural disaster never re-open. Fortunately, taking some simple steps to prepare yourself, your store and your employees can help your business weather the storm (both literally and figuratively).

Download this eguide to learn how to create and implement a disaster plan for your retail business.

Here are some tips you will learn:

Identify risks and their effects

Many disasters are specific to geographic areas. For example, if your store is in Florida, hurricanes are a big concern, while a California retailer needs to prepare for earthquakes or wildfires. If your store is in a shopping center or other area that attracts crowds, it’s wise to develop plans for active shooter events or terrorist threats.

Create a communication, response and action plan

Your priorities include protecting your people, data and property.

Develop an evacuation plan for getting out of your store and/or shopping center, and a plan for sheltering in place if necessary. (Your property management company can help determine the best routes and best places to find shelter.) Choose a meeting place outside your store to regroup after the disaster and make a plan to ensure everyone is accounted for. Print maps and post them in easily accessible locations in your store.

From inventory orders and financial records to customers’ credit card information, your retail store runs on data. Planning ahead will help protect you from data loss in a disaster.

Create a plan to secure property and equipment if you receive advance warning of an approaching disaster such as a blizzard or hurricane.

Respond and Recover

You’re not out of the woods when the disaster ends. Unless they can resume operations within five days, 90% of smaller companies go out of business after a disaster, FEMA reports. Planning for business continuity helps your store get back to business as quickly as possible.

Other important tips:

  • Regularly review your disaster plan to make sure your information and contact list is up to date.
  • Provide disaster training for your team at least once a year, and whenever you hire a new employee.
  • Hold regular drills to test your plan and conduct monthly checks of your security and fire systems and emergency supplies.

You may never have to live through a disaster. But preparing for the worst can help to ensure the best possible outcome if disaster does strike your store.

Download this eguide to make sure your store is ready.

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Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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