It confounds me to no end that every Thanksgiving, a day in which we give thanks for all that we have, is immediately followed by a day created by retailers to prey on us by luring us in with the prospect of a deep discount on an item that we want.
The display of people at their most vicious and greedy never fails to put me in a state of shock. The fact that a riot will break out over a video game or this year’s hot new doll is almost sickening. Yet at the same time I can understand it.
The holidays put a strain on our pocketbooks as well as our good graces, the appeal of getting a good deal on something while being in a crowded area with others that have the exact same goal as you, instantly puts you into a survival mode; much like hyenas surrounding a water buffalo.
Your adrenaline is high and our instinctual competitive drive kicks in, when these two things combine it is a recipe for violence. Adding in the fact that the economy is weak and people have less to spend each year that it fails to improve and that makes black Friday an infinitely amount more toxic.
Below is just a small sampling of the violence created out of otherwise good people just looking for a deal:
In 2006, a man in Roanoke, Virginia shopping at Best Buy was recorded on video assaulting another shopper.Unruly Wal-Mart shoppers at a store outside Columbus, Ohio, quickly flooded in the doors at opening, pinning several employees against stacks of merchandise.Nine shoppers in a California mall were injured, including an elderly woman who had to be taken to the hospital, when the crowd rushed to grab gift certificates that had been released from the ceiling
In 2008 a crowd of approximately 2,000 shoppers in Valley Stream, New York, waited outside for the 5:00 am opening of the local Wal-Mart. As opening time approached the crowd grew anxious and when the doors were opened the crowd pushed forward, breaking the door down, and trampling a 34-year old employee to death.
The shoppers did not appear concerned with the victim’s fate, expressing refusal to halt their stampede when other employees attempted to intervene and help the injured employee, complaining that they had been waiting in the cold and were not willing to wait any longer. Shoppers had begun assembling as early as 9:00 the evening before.
Even when police arrived and attempted to render aid to the injured man, shoppers continued to pour in, shoving and pushing the officers as they made their way into the store. Several other people incurred minor injuries, including a pregnant woman who had to be taken to the hospital.
The incident may be the first case of a death occurring during Black Friday sales; according to the National Retail Federation, “We are not aware of any other circumstances where a retail employee has died working on the day after Thanksgiving.”
During Black Friday 2010, a Madison, Wisconsin woman was arrested outside of a Toys ‘R’ Us store after cutting in line, and threatening to shoot other shoppers who tried to object. A Toys for Tots volunteer in Georgia was stabbed by a shoplifter.An Indianapolis woman was arrested after causing a disturbance by arguing with other Wal-Mart shoppers.
She had been asked to leave the store, but refused. A man was arrested at a Florida Wal-Mart on drug and weapons charges after other shoppers waiting in line for the store to open noticed that he was carrying a handgun and reported the matter to police.
He was discovered to also be carrying two knives and a pepper spray grenade. A man in, was trampled when doors opened at a Target store and unruly shoppers rushed in, in an episode reminiscent of the deadly 2008 Wal-Mart stampede
On Black Friday 2011, a woman at a Porter Ranch California Wal-Mart used pepper spray on fellow shoppers, causing minor injuries to at least 10 people who had been waiting hours for Black Friday savings.
It was later reported that the incident caused 20 injuries. The incident started as people waited in line for the new Xbox 360. A witness said a woman with two children in tow became upset with the way people were pushing in line. The witness said she pulled out pepper spray and sprayed the other people in line.
Another account stated: “The store had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players, and a crowd had formed to wait for the unwrapping, when the woman began spraying people ‘in order to get an advantage,’ according to the police. In an incident outside a Wal-Mart store in San Leandro, California, one man was wounded after being shot following Black Friday shopping at about 1:45 am
It doesn’t even have to necessarily be Black Friday for violence to break out on the holidays. Last year I personally saw two women get into a fist fight over a frozen turkey. Also please be aware that Black Friday is starting much earlier this year so tensions will already be high this week as people ramp up for the sales. My advice to you is to stay home and enjoy the time with your family, it is much more important than a shiny new toy.
With that being said, I won’t fault anyone for choosing to head out into the cold come Friday morning, but if you do make sure that you keep calm, no toy or electronic gadget is worth losing a life… or taking a life over.
Be sure to check my next newsletter where I will give you some tips on how to react and what to do should you be caught in the middle of mob or swept up in a riot on Black Friday or any other day.