Associate following a retail store closing checklist and shutting a gate

How to Create a Retail Store Opening and Closing Checklist

Opening and closing procedures keep stores running smoothly. Here’s how to put ones in place that’ll get followed.

  • By Sarah Murphy

Anyone who has worked in retail knows that there is a lot that happens outside of standard operating hours, and there’s nothing worse than coming in to open at the start of your shift and realizing that the team who closed the night before forgot crucial steps in the process.

Store opening and closing procedures help set stores up for success each day, and retail store opening and closing checklists are one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your frontline teams on track.

There are plenty of elements to consider when creating an opening and closing policy and a list of procedures to follow, so we’ve laid out some tips to help you on your way.

But first, let’s go over what you should take into account when it comes to drafting up a retail store opening and closing checklist.


What to Consider Before Drafting a Retail Store Opening and Closing Checklist

In order to get through everything that needs to be done at the beginning and end of each day, you’ll want a clear plan of attack.

First, you’ll want to figure out how much time is needed to complete all the necessary tasks because you’ll need to schedule staff accordingly. 

When it comes to scheduling staff, some may need to arrive an hour before doors open or just 15 minutes in advance—it all depends on the responsibilities assigned. For example, if an associate typically stocks shelves, they may not need to come in before doors open, but if they have safe-counting or keyholder responsibilities they will need a bit of extra time to get set up before customers arrive. Likewise, it may take employees longer to clean up the store at closing during snowy times of year or when large promotions are ending and signage needs to be taken down. Also, keep in mind that for cash-counting and door-locking procedures, you’ll always want at least two staff members present to ensure accountability. 

Most importantly, though, you’ll need to come up with a standardized list of all the duties to be completed in order for the store to successfully open and close. These are things that must be done every single time the store is opened or closed; special one-off, weekly, or monthly tasks do not need to be included on these particular checklists. (If there are particular tasks, deliveries, pick-ups, store visits, or other events that always happen on the same days, it may make sense for your team to create individual checklists for each specific day of the week.)


Benefits of Standardized Opening and Closing Procedures

Standardizing opening and closing procedures by implementing daily checklists for each location will keep your whole team organized and focused by making sure that no necessary tasks are being left incomplete.

Additional benefits include:

Better communication: Both opening and closing checklists serve as a means of communication between the team that closed and the team that opens the next day. It allows staff to make note of any inconsistencies or ongoing issues, and makes it clear what was or was not completed during the previous shift.

Increased accountability: If something isn’t done or isn’t done correctly, it’s clear where the issue stems from. By ticking off tasks on daily checklists, an employee is taking responsibility for that duty (i.e., if someone signed off that they mopped the floor at close, but the next morning the floors are dirty, the discrepancy can be easily traced back to a specific staff member).

Cost savings: By including checklist items like turning the lights off and turning down the thermostat at close, retailers can save a significant amount on utility costs. It’s a simple money-saving measure that could easily be overlooked if not included on a standardized store opening and closing checklist.

Better security: A checklist can ensure that all proper security procedures are followed when the store is closing—from making sure the alarm is set correctly and all doors are locked to counting and securing the safe and ensuring any high-value pieces are removed from front windows and stored safely.

Improved safety: Now, more than ever, including COVID-19 precautions on a standardized opening and closing checklist can ensure that staff and customers remain safe. Tasks may include making sure hand sanitizing stations are filled up, that self-assessments have been completed, and high-touch surfaces have been wiped down with disinfectant.


How to Create Your Own Retail Store Opening and Closing Checklist

Now that you know all the benefits of creating a standardized store opening and closing procedure, it’s time to actually create a checklist for your stores.

Here are some examples of the steps you can take to come up with and execute your own checklists. (Remember, every retailer and each store will have its own unique routine based on building, layout, and staff, so keep that in mind when creating your checklists.)

Step 1: Brainstorm What to Include

First, you’ll want to collaborate with your team members to draft up a list of all the tasks that are completed during the opening and closing of your store. Include everything, even little tasks that seem like muscle memory—this will ensure that new trainees don’t forget anything as they learn the process.

If there are certain tasks that need to be completed by a particular employee (i.e., a keyholder that needs to lock the doors), make note of that.

Step 2: Create a Logical Order

Put some thought into the order that tasks should be completed in. For example, making sure all customers have left the store should be done before any associates are leaving the sales floor to count their tills or bring out cleaning supplies. Locking the doors, meanwhile, will need to be done multiple times—once when the store closes to the public, and again when staff leave—so be sure to include it on the list as many times as it needs to get done.

If organizing every single task chronologically doesn’t work for your team, you can try grouping tasks together and keeping those subsections in chronological order. As long as the checklist is arranged in a way that allows associates to follow a clear and logical order, it lessens the chance that anything will fall through the cracks and get missed.

Step 3: Test It Out

Once you’ve gathered all the tasks to include and sorted them into a specific order, allow your team to test the checklist out. In the process, they may find certain items work better in a different order or that certain tasks require more time to complete. Tweak the list until it works the best for your specific store.

Step 4: Make It a Habit

You can always make changes to your store’s opening and closing checklists. But once you’ve got it mostly set, put it into action. 

Train (or refresh) all employees that will be responsible for opening and closing on each of the tasks on the list, so there is no excuse for not knowing how or forgetting to do something. By implementing the list and expecting it be completed at open and close each day, it should quickly become habitual for everyone involved.


Having a retail store opening checklist and retail store closing checklist helps ensure important tasks are completed at the end of each day and stores are able to start the day on the right footing.

To learn how Foko Retail can help streamline operations in your stores, set up a time to chat with our team. Follow us on LinkedIn to find out about our latest blog posts, guides, and corporate news.


About the Author

Sarah Murphy is a content marketing specialist with a background in journalism. She lives in Hamilton, ON, where she is mom to a 13-year-old wiener dog named Penny. When not watching bad reality TV, she’s probably chasing squirrels out of her garden or baking cookies.