Australia’s retail and hospitality businesses are set for their biggest Christmas on record, with shoppers expected to splurge nearly $64 billion over the pre-holiday period, according to a recent report.
While increased sales may bring relief to small business owners who have dealt with months of low Consumer Confidence and rising costs, the rise in foot traffic could bring with it more risk, warns small business expert Jane Mason.
“The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for many small businesses. As people flood through their doors, it’s easy for small business owners to become overwhelmed and miss critical risks – especially for those still dealing with chronic labour shortages,” says Mason.
As Christmas fast approaches, small business owners are left with a Catch-22 situation: they desperately need skilled workers to keep up with the anticipated demand, but the available pool could be a liability in the workplace.
“Untrained employees can be a drag on a small business at the best of times, affecting productivity and the safety of customers… but many don’t have a choice,” says Mason.
“While it may be tough right now, there is one thing you can do – ensure your business is protected from the risks it faces this festive season and the new year ahead.”
What are the risks?
Small business owners will have to contend with an influx of customers this holiday period.
For hospitality businesses that means hosting Christmas parties, family get-togethers and end-of-year work functions while retailers will need to prepare for hordes of customers picking out gifts.
Both situations, combined with untrained employees, invites the possibility of an increase of accidents.
Small business owners have a legal responsibility to ensure their staff and members of the public are safe.
“Imagine if a customer tripped over some new Christmas merchandise and was hurt in your store. Do you have a plan in place to protect your business from the consequences of that situation?” says Mason.
“Don’t let an unfortunate accident damage your business’ finances and reputation. Now is the time to ensure your Public Liability insurance is up to date.”
Australians are also increasingly jumping online for their Christmas shopping, with one third indicating they bought gifts online last year, according to a Savvy survey.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) are expecting a similar theme this Christmas while Australia Post are ramping up their efforts after delivering a record 52 million parcels between Black Friday and Christmas Day last year.
Mason says If your business is sending out a large number of orders during Christmas time, you should also consider insurance for goods in transit.
“Loss or damage caused by collision, natural disaster, or theft in some defined events is typically included,” she says. “You can’t always prevent things from going wrong, but you can make sure you are covered.”
“Accidents are often an inevitable part of life and can still happen no matter how much you prepare for them,” says Mason. “Protect your business today to avoid potential pain later down the road.”
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