Posted by: thescoundrel | November 30, 2008

Black Friday Mayhem


Black Friday is over for the year 2008. I did not sit out overnight waiting for the sale to start. I did not rush to the store and stand in first rush long lines. And I managed to land a very nice 19″ LCD TV for the bedroom at a great price at the Silvis, Illinois Wal Mart. I read that other shoppers were not so lucky at stores across the nation.

As is not so uncommon during special events, the crowds were out of control in several stores across the nation. One Wal Mart store in Long Island, New York reported Black Friday mayhem, which revolved around an unruly crowd tragically stampeding an employee to death. I have read several stories on the event including a couple of QCOnline postings where the blame game has already started in the comments sections of the posts. So far I have read many reasonings for the tragic affair by posters including placing the blame on: the nationwide event of Black Friday, Christmas, Security and several irrational jabs at blaming Wal Mart. I have been on both sides of the Black Friday line. I have worked retail many times during Black Friday Events and on rare occasions I have been a consumer during Black Friday events. Despite my numerous presence at many Black Friday events there was never an injury occurrence. There were consumer temper tantrums galore. But the only time I can ever remember actual violence was when I was a kid being dragged into K-Mart Blue Light Special Nights. Most Blue Light Special Nights were not Black Friday Events.

Neither the Black Friday event, Christmas, Security nor Wal Mart was the cause of this individual’s death. Black Friday and Christmas have been celebrated events for years. The violence that broke out this Friday was not representative of the events themselves. If we were to cease these events as some would call for, then will we cease very other event where a handful of individuals stir-up violence and mayhem? Shall we shut down sporting events, rock concerts, political rallies and media events? All have been home to various acts of violence. Shall we reduce the Interstate speed limit to thirty miles an hour that would reduce more injuries and deaths in weeks than have ever been accounted for during the history of shopping events. Also, if the company had a security guard at every entrance it is highly unlikely they could have slowed down the stampede of 2000 anxious people. And because Wal Mart offers great deals to their customers is not what killed this man. Lots of stores were mobbed with customers chomping to buy products at special prices. Violence is rare and not the norm at these events. There is blame to go around. But the blame belongs to the people who pushed, shoved and trampled the poor man to his death and injured several others. A combination of personal greed, envy, gluttony and pride all helped inflame the passions of anger and impatience, which is a deadly combination. It was mob mentality created from anger and impatience that killed the Wal Mart Employee. Sadly anger and impatience effect too many day-to-day activities.

This Friday, millions of people lined up across the nation to take advantage of special bargains and a fraction of those people lost control of their senses in a hand full of places. In the one case, they turned in to a mob that recklessly killed a man. And the facts are that even if someone is finally brought to justice for the event, the individual/s will be scapegoats for the throng of 2000 individuals that turned in to a mob. The cry for justice should be turned towards the mob not the events and institutions they tarnished.

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Responses

  1. malaysians love to shop but i have yet to hear or see a scene like the tales of black friday shopping i hear. even though our sales are nowhere as crazy as black friday, the kiasu (hokkien for “afraid to lose”) attitude is prevalent in shopping anywhere where there’s a good bargain, i think. people don’t want to lose out and will do anything to get things cheap! hopefully walmart can do something to prevent another incident like this in the future.

  2. Yeah shopping for bargains is a world wide passion. I love to shop myself. But there is not much more than they already do that stores like Wal Mart can do in these situations. If you think about it considering the throngs that show up on Black Friday, the stores do a good enough job of preparing. The problem is in the shoppers aggressiveness. That is something a store has little control of in a mob scene. There were 2000 people involved in the death of that NY man. What the Store had on their hands was a cattle stampede. All you can do is get out of the way and hope it does not break your way, if you are in the front. People have to start accepting responsibility for their own actions. The fault belongs at the feet of the stampede.

  3. well, i’ve been caught in a pushy crowd before, and i know that if someone pushes me from behind hard enough, i cannot hold myself back from pushing the person in front of me because the person(s) pushing from behind is just too forceful. i think this was the case in this incident, the domino effect of all the pushing. sometimes the people doing the pushing aren’t actually pushing but trying to make their way forward, but because the people in front wouldn’t give way (and rightly so since they came first), the pushing starts…

    i’m not well-versed about black friday but i assume it’s a one-day sale, hence the name friday? i mean, if it lasted throughout the weekend it should be named black weekend… anyway, the point is if the sales are stretched from a day to a weekend, it might make a different in customer attendance. perhaps walmart can consider that. black friday is a weekend sale, already, then just ignore my rambling. 😛

    while it’s true the customers involved should be held responsible, i also think walmart can play a part in ensuring this wouldn’t happen again.

  4. left the word ‘if’ out in the last sentence of the second paragraph!

  5. […] The Scoundrel takes a non-hysterical view of these events, having been on both sides of Black Friday. I agree with his observations and commentary and will add my own: […]

  6. Sulz Black Friday is just a nickname for the first official day of Christmas shopping. The sales will continue from now until the end of December. The sales will continue but the products and prices will change, sometimes on a daily basis. As long as I have been involved in sales there has always been an important philosophy most companies and individuals follow. Make the first sale of the company or a sales season as big as possible. Draw the crowds, create a buying frenzy. That is why you see special prices during grand openings of new stores. The Black Friday sale is no different. The sales are orchestrated by sales that last for hours not day or days. Congestion during Christmas holiday sales are usually an especially big problem to manage. You must manage labor, stock and store hours. Store hours are easy to adjust. If you do not expand your store hours the peak demands for customer assistance during normal hours will out pace the store’s ability to keep enough labor force available. However to add store hours you must take on extra labor and operating costs. But if you are going to open special hours your must drive the business by offering up special discounts. Most people will not come to early bird hours unless you offer them a tantalizing item at a very special price. Most often the items used to drive this traffic are at cost, near cost levels or even below cost for the store offering the bargain. So the sales must be limited sale items and limited in time constraints. It is a stores version of pacing themselves for a marathon run. This will happen throughout the Christmas season and for a couple of weeks following Christmas. Then of course the most difficult thing to manage is stock. Stores are not going to overstock on items they make no money on. And what becomes popular sale items during Christmas shopping is often unforeseen. It is not always the best discounted item. A discounted item is a draw to get you too look at it plus compare it to other items they have available. And there is no guarantee the manufacturing company can keep up with your demands for a popular item, discounted or otherwise. Managing/Budgeting a Christmas holiday business is not a smooth operation. There are a lot of X-Factors that must be managed along the way.

  7. ah, thanks for the condensed version of black friday from a retailer’s perspective. 😉 no wonder the insane crowds… yeah, a lot of aspects have to be considered if incidents like this were not to be repeated.

  8. Too bad for the dead employee that no one has expressed concern as to how his family should be compensated. If he had been shot there would probably be candles and flowers on the sidewalk. Why a frenzy? Even those without computers perhaps could have gone to local libraries and made their purchases on line.
    I guess as The Scoundrel suggests, the eventual prize is purchasing something on sale–not something we couldn’t live without.
    Mob behavior cannot be rationalized. Is this the “real America” that Sarah Palin talked about?

  9. You are correct Tacky Mob behavior cannot be rationalized. It is an unacceptable form of behavior. Those individuals that stampeded the store should be brought to justice, if possible. Though it may never happen. If there is film they may be able to deduce some measure of culpability by the shoppers. Perhaps it will lead to a civil suit against the shoppers, perhaps not. But the individuals in question should all be held as accountable if it is possible to identify them.

    Shopping online is not my preferred method of purchasing products. I do some shopping on line but I prefer the touch, handle and talk method of buying most products.

    Tacky the Palin remark is out of line. Your attempt to make it political is wrong and trashy.

  10. your articles are interesting and so useful for me. Thank you for sharing great information.


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