Keeping your shop safe this winter - 7 tips

Winter is fast approaching, and with it a new set of potential risks to your premises.

As a retailer you need to consider ways in which you can protect your premises from the difficulties presented by the cold weather – and in order to make sure your shop is safe, you need to act now.

Here are some simple tips to help ensure your Christmas goes off without a hitch.

1. Check piping

Cracked piping is one of the most significant winter risks facing any property, whether retail or residential. Before the really cold weather sets in, make sure that all exterior piping is intact and free of blockages. Broken pipes tend to let water in, which can then freeze and cause the pipes to ultimately burst. This can be very expensive – and is often not covered by your insurance policy.

2. Remember the heating

It is likely that your premises will be empty for a few days over the Christmas period. During this time, make sure that the heating comes on at a low level and at regular intervals. Again, this will help to ensure that pipes do not freeze – and that the premises aren’t too cold when you return!

3. Think about security

Any empty period poses obvious security problems. It is important that your premises is properly secured over the Christmas period, and that you recognise that this is a period of heightened risk. Make sure that all entry points are secure, and that your alarm systems are in good working order. Where practical, consider arranging a rota with neighbouring businesses to check on empty premises when owners are away.

4. Inform your staff

Your staff are always your most important asset – but this is particularly true during the holiday period. If you are going away while the business is still open, make sure that your staff have all the information they need. You might need to leave keys, access codes, contact numbers, and so on. Additionally, if a member of staff will be the last to shut up shop before the Christmas break, make sure that they know how to operate the heating as discussed above.

5. Stock up on essentials

Given the increasing unpredictability of British weather, it is sensible to have a stash of essentials on the premises. This might include a torch, spare batteries, mobile phone (with credit), shovel, and so on. This can help to make sure that you are able to cope with the most inclement weather and, hopefully, keep your business open.

6. Have a plan in place

Indeed, keeping your business open is one of the main priorities during the winter. It is important that you have a plan in place to help you do this. This is broadly known as business continuity planning, and is a good habit to get into. Consider developing a written plan to deal with, for example, a heavy snowfall. This need not be complex. The idea is simply to ensure that you and your staff have a coherent set of arrangements to help you ensure that you can keep trading in difficult situations.

7. Check your insurance

Finally, make sure that you understand the terms of your insurance policy. Remember that there may be exclusions concerning the number of days that the premises can be empty. Similarly, remember that you may be obliged to carry out maintenance tasks (particularly with regard to piping) in order for your policy to remain valid. Make sure that you read your policy documents and, if you are in any doubt, contact your insurer.