We all hope we're never faced with having to operate a retail store without electricity but acts of nature, mechanical problems and other emergency situations could result in power failure at your store.
So what do you do when the lights go out during store hours? Start by preparing a power loss procedure before it happens. Keep this plan in your store policy manual and be sure to communicate the plan with all store personnel. Having a solid plan in place can help ease the hassle of doing business without power.
Place flashlights under each checkout, in the office and one in the stockroom. Be sure to periodically check and/or replace the batteries. These flashlights can be used to provide security for the customers and staff.
In the event of a power failure, staff should immediately lock the front door and place a sign on the door explaining why the store is closed during regular business hours.
If there are any customers in the store when the power goes out, finish checking out the customer as quickly as possible. Cash registers and POS systems on a backup uninterrupted power supply (UPS) will have time to finish the transaction and properly shut the system down.
If your registers are not on a backup system and no longer operate without power, use a battery-powered calculator to total the sale, if possible. Many cash registers can be opened with a key for cash and check tendered sales. Keep good written records in order to add these transactions to the register later. Use the flashlights to escort customers out of the store.
Contact the utility company to report the power outage and to determine how long the power will be off. If the power will not be restored within 30 minutes to an hour, consider dismissing hourly employees and have them call, or return, at a specified time. Store management will need to handwrite the time off on time cards as most time clocks will be inoperable.
Retail stores that keep track of daily sales in a Beat Yesterday book, or other log for comparing sales history, should document the power failure and the length of time the store was closed.