Your retail site must ensure emergency power is delivered to stay prepared and protected against power outages.

Key Takeaways:

  • Power outages can put a retailer’s people, products, and partnerships at risk.
  • Backups like generators and UPS can keep businesses running on their own power.
  • Staff training and electrical awareness are key to effective outage response plans.

Reliable electricity does more than keep retailers’ lights on. Steady power drives operations, safeguards staff and assets, and preserves profits. Retail sites that don’t have backups leave everything to chance.

This article provides expert advice and practical solutions to help retail outlets effectively manage risks related to power outages. Implementing these solutions helps businesses remain active during electrical disruptions – and preserve people, products, and customer trust.

Understanding the impact of retail power outages 

Unless you’ve got a stall at the local farmer’s market, your retail site depends on uninterrupted power to provide products or services. Even brief power outages can cause disruptions with checkout technology and environmental controls. If you’re a supply chain link, retailers depending on your continuous service would suffer if you went offline. Any of those can negatively affect customer and client experiences and hurt profits as shoppers and B2B partners go elsewhere. 

Power outages could also cost food and beverage retailers heavily when thermally sensitive products aren’t kept at the right temperature, and keeping people at the right temperature is also crucial. Uncomfortable customers are free to leave, but staff stuck without a functioning HVAC system may be unable to. This could be hazardous to their health if a power outage persists, worsening existing medical conditions and putting certain age and weight groups at greater risk. Read our earlier blog for tips on avoiding this which includes keeping your HVAC powered up.

Retailers must be prepared for electrical disruptions by making emergency power solutions part of their operations. Here are several reliable ways to do it.

Types of emergency power solutions

Installing a commercial generator is a most popular and effective option to supply retailers with backup power. They can be powered by diesel or natural gas; solar power is also an option. Some generators are hybrids, but all are designed to quickly activate during power outages for continuous electricity.

An excellent complement to generators is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). These provide retailers valuable (though limited) time to safely close electrical processes and avoid the potential damage caused by sudden grid failures.

Selecting proper backup measures depends on the site and its business model. Some considerations when choosing the right emergency power solutions include:

  • Retail site dimensions: Can it support a sufficiently sized commercial generator?
  • Your daily power load needs, particularly during peak times
  • The local climate — gas-powered generators tend to be used in milder climates
  • Failover tolerance and shutdown times: How quickly do you need a generator to kick in, and how long do you need a UPS to function to safely close processes?

Retailers must understand and identify their site’s critical and non-critical loads. Critical processes are those essential to business operations that must be kept active. Discuss this  with your electrical contractor to discover which of the various UPS and generator types meet your unique power needs.

Implementing a power outage response plan

The power went out. The generator kicked in. The UPS bought you time. This is just the start of an effective power outage response plan. Outages can be more dangerous than you think. For example, a power surge may cause the power outage, and surges can cause fires. Your fire alarms won’t alert you if they don’t have electricity. This is why awareness is the first step in a comprehensive emergency plan.

Look around your site for any signs of smoke, sparks, or fire following a power outage. It’s safest to leave the premises if any of those are present. Pick a safe evacuation spot outside and contact 911 and your electrical contractor. Then,  take the second step in the plan: damage assessment. The professionals can then take the final step – restoration – to resume operations.

Training staff for power outage scenarios

Staff training is central to power outage management. Our guide to electrical safety in the workplace helps navigate power outages and safety by increasing staff awareness of electrical risks and how to manage them. One staff member should be appointed safety officer. However, all team members should be fully informed on safety response procedures so they can step in if needed.

This means everyone must know emergency numbers, be familiar with the site layout (particularly entrances, exits, and stairs), and know how to safely use backup power sources. Ready.gov has compiled a power outage toolkit that will help retailers draft a comprehensive power outage response to empower staff and promote safety.

Effective communication and customer service during outages can be achieved by quickly alerting B2B partners of power losses. Reassure them that you’ve contacted local authorities and contractors to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

If possible, temporarily closing the business during outages is a quicker way to respect customers’ time while responding to business calls. Notify the public you’re currently closed but working towards reopening.

Maintaining and testing emergency power systems

Regular maintenance and testing of emergency power equipment ensures system readiness and reliability, not to mention saving retailers money on repairs and replacement. Manufacturer’s guidelines and local/national regulations collectively dictate how often backup power should be tested, how, and by whom. Retailers should only work with experienced local contractors to ensure compliance.

Get proactive protection from UES

We can install backup power before the next power outage, or quickly get your retail outlet back in business. You can reach us at 954-792-5444 (ext. 32 for emergencies) or on our contact form. No matter your retail business, we can answer all your questions and assist with reliable cost-effective backup power!