Shopping Centre Shootings Require Risk Management Controls

shopping centre people
Protect your Retail Tenants and Shoppers with a Emergency Evacuation Process or Crisis Control Plan

As recently as the last 24 hours I have read and seen reported a shopping centre shooting where two people were injured.  Fortunately both people will recover from their injuries, but the event brings into context the need for retail centre managers to have a crisis management plan for their managed properties.   Here is a note I sent out on our newsletter.

As it happens, I know the particular shopping centre in question quite well, and can relate to the problems that evolve in the event.  The shooting happened on a Saturday afternoon around 2pm when the Robina Town Shopping Centre was at its busiest.  Families and children were in close proximity to the event.  It was a wet day outside and raining spasmodically; families in the area headed to the shopping centre for ‘retail therapy’ and fun.

The Robina Shopping Centre is very large regional centre in the Gold Coast Australia with well over 200 specialty shops and 4 anchor tenants.  The retailers in the tenant mix are of high quality and the rents paid in the property are significant given the status and quality of the property. Apparently one person hit by a bullet was the target of the shooting, and another person was an innocent bystander hit by a stray bullet.

This is a Centre Managers worst nightmare.   In the property at the time there were thousands of people; tenants, customers, contractors, families, tourists, and children.  The malls were busy and it was peak shopping time. All of this brings home the key fact that a shopping centre is a challenging place to manage.  You have all types of people coming and going through the property all day long.  Security, control, and response are critical factors of shopping centre performance when something goes wrong.

If you are the property manager for a retail centre (large or small), it is up to you to control events and get the emergency authorities to the problem as soon as possible.  When the authorities arrive on site, they take control, but you and your management team are the first on the scene or are the first to be aware of the problem.  The tenants and visitors to the property look to you for help and guidance.

This problem could have happened in your retail property (large or small).  How would you have handled it?  Could you have handled it?

Here are some questions for you to consider in your managed shopping centre or retail property:

1. Do you have a crisis management plan that all tenants, and staff can implement as soon as a crisis is identified?

2. Has your insurance company checked and approved your crisis management plan?  What do they want of you when something of a risk nature happens in the property?

3. Have you involved the local emergency services in overseeing your crisis management plan?  How will you contact the emergency services?  Who will do that?

4. Exactly what happens when people are injured and how can you get a response underway to protect the public and the tenants?

5. What records of events do you have now and what is your record keeping process with shopping centre injuries, threats, robberies, death, and security issues?

6. Do tenants know what to do when emergency or risk events happen?

7. What does the landlord want you to do?  What does the landlord want to know?

8. How will you control the tenants?

9. How will you help the customers in the property?

10. Where will you be and where will you go when things happen?  Do your staff know how to find you?

Every situation has to be catered for as a potential problem within your property.  Some of the big ones that come to mind are explosions, earthquake, fire, floods, slips and falls, injury, missing people, gas, death, and emergency evacuations.  Some tenants will also bring you factors of risk that also have to be catered for (such as banks with the threat of robbery).

If you manage a retail property with customers, tenants, contractors, and interaction with the community, you have to expect major problems and unexpected events.  Preparation and process are critical factors when it comes to responses from Shopping Centre staff at the time of crisis.  There are some more ideas for commercial and retail property managers on our website

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By John Highman

John Highman is an International Commercial Real Estate Author, Conference Speaker, and Broadcaster living in Australia, who shares property investment ideas and information to online audiences Worldwide.