The move had been forced by changes in the technological and competitive environment that had resulted in substantial changes in the retail industry. Old-school, mall-based department stores were falling out of favor and both Kmart and Sears were losing market share.
A Primer Merchants know falling merchandise presents dangerous risks to unwary customers, and courts are holding them accountable.
As seen in "Trial Magazine", January By: Hyman and Molly E. Homan "Stack it high and let it fly.
Sinceabout 30, falling-merchandise incidents resulting in injuries to customers have occurred at Wal-Mart. The retail warehouse business exploded during the s and shows no signs of slowing down. Inthe first Wal-Mart and Kmart stores opened, and these merchants were about to "hit" the consumer in a big way.
These stores operated on the formula that it was more efficient, less expensive, and more profitable to warehouse as much merchandise as possible on the sales floor, rather than in off-site warehouses or backroom storage areas. High stacking of merchandise was born, and a profitable business strategy at the expense of customer safety was created.
Falling-merchandise incidents have the following common characteristics. A trademark of the retail warehouse merchant is high stacking, characterized by safety experts as the storage of merchandise on the sales floor above eye level. A sales clerk or customer must stretch, use a ladder or step stool, or climb on shelves to handle merchandise.
Typically, merchants do not use physical-restraining safety devices such as security bars, fencing, safety ties, and shelf extenders on high shelves because of the expense involved and the employee time it would take to use them. Kmart representatives have testified that use of the devices is simply "not practical.
Falling merchandise can be triggered by moving merchandise that has been stacked in an unstable manner; moving merchandise on one shelf in such a way that merchandise on an adjacent shelf falls, referred to as "push through"; stacking different size boxes on top of each other; and stacking heavy merchandise on top of lighter merchandise.
Vibrations in and out of a store, merchandise left hanging over the lip of a shelf, and merchandise too large for a shelf can also cause the problem. No warning of danger. Typically, the merchandise falls without any warning to unsuspecting customers.
Notwithstanding that merchants know of the risk of falling merchandise from high stacking and the potential for serious injury to customers, they do not warn customers of these risks with signs, banners, or placards; do not cordon off shopping aisles when merchandise is being stocked or retrieved; and do not use spotters when stocking is in progress.
Generally, the customer is not the cause of the merchandise falling and is generally not charged with a duty to watch for falling merchandise or to expect merchandise to fall. Often store personnel are improperly trained, or not trained at all, in stocking techniques or in recognizing and correcting the hazards of falling merchandise.
A number of incidents could be prevented if merchants would train employees in procedures for recognizing hazards and would ensure that the merchandise is safely stacked. A significant percentage of injuries occur to the head, neck, back, and upper torso.
Even light merchandise becomes dangerous when it falls from a high shelf. For example, a 5-pound object falling about 2 feet exerts a force of about pounds. Merchants in the retail warehouse business commonly track incidents.Walmart Ad covers a nice grocery sale on the first part.
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