Expert Retail Witness


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Covid pandemic has settled down as retailers quickly found ways to overcome the crisis with new safety precautions and guidelines to follow. The response was two years in the making as state health experts’ regulations had retailers set down safety guidelines for customers to follow. Ideas such as washing hands, limiting the amount customers in a store at one time, plastic barriers for cash transaction, one way aisles for in store traffic patterns and much more to curb the crisis. Some of these suggestions remain currently even with the crisis behind us. Why did covid get immediate attention and existing store safety rules remained unattended.


As a Retail Store Designer for 50 years, I traveled America and continue to, visiting different retailers, and learning their safety procedures. The more I travel the more I experienced that corporate, who generates the new employee safety manuals and plan-o-grams, failed to follow up at store level to ensure that some corporate regulations were, in fact, being followed.


There needs to be a new emphasis on how and why the store needs to pay as much attention on store safety as they do on the pandemic and inventory control. Loss prevention employees at store level spend their time tracking down customers who steal product. The simple math is that they saved the store a few hundred dollars when at the same  time a hazardous safety condition allows to remain in the store that could potentially cost the store hundreds of thousands of dollars.


There has always been a misperception between the Corporate home office (Ivory Tower) and their store staff (Field Personnel) brought on by a lack of understanding for each other’s concerns. Each group pointing a finger at the other to place blame when something goes wrong. I understand the complexities between the Corporate home office and the store, but that “tug of war” does not work well for the retailer when a customer loses their eyesight, use of limbs or even death because of not enforcing the safety regulations.


The corporate employee’s regional manager act as the liaisons between corporate and the store. The regional manager does a great job in clarifying the safety regulations that corporate provides for the store in the safety manual prior to the regional manager leaving  the store. The manager and regional  manager agree that the safety regulation will be implemented daily.  Every safety measure printed in the safety handbook must be precisely followed or the field needs to provide suggestions to be followed unless the store’s condition and staff level do not allow. The field personnel  and regional manager need to provide suggestions to the corporate regulator to make the safety rule relevant to that stores condition. As a Retail Safety Expert Witness, I have been asked to opine on over 500 cases for Plaintiff and Defense Attorneys. I find that the above is typical of many retail chains and the actual cause of retail incident if not implemented.

















Jerry Birnbach

Retail Expert Witness



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