Walmart Takes Steps To Prevent More Black Friday Chaos And Tragedy

Hoping to avoid anything even close to last year’s tragic Black Friday human stampede, Walmart stores nationwide aren’t opening at the crack of dawn. Instead of opening their doors at 5 A.M. and inviting sales-crazed frenzies, they will open at 6 A.M. on Thanksgiving Day, then remain open overnight.

“(Shoppers) will be dispersed through a 200,000 square foot store as opposed to all being right by the front door, waiting to go in,” said spokesman David Tovar.

It may not be for the same reason, but other retailers are spreading what would normally be their Black Friday sales out throughout the month of November. Sears declared Halloween weekend a sort of Orange and Black Friday, and other chains are trying similar strategies.

“We see a lot of retailers looking at what happened last year and they are starting to roll out their Black Friday promotions earlier,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer for Coremetics, which gathers information about consumers’ online behavior for retailers including Macy’s Inc. (M), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP), Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF).

“There is a certain amount of cash and retailers want to strike early while it is still there,” Squire said.

Because consumers have come to take big discounting for granted, retailers will have to be generous. “There has to be a sale sign; there has to be a markdown,” Ferrara said.

I was hoping that all marketers would have some respect for the late Jdimytai Damour and refrain from using the term “Doorbuster” in his honor in this year’s Black Friday advertising, but no such luck.

Wal-Mart looks to control crowds on Black Friday [Reuters]
Retailers Making ‘Black Friday’ A Month-Long Effort [Wall Street Journal]

PREVIOUSLY:
Wal-Mart Employee Trampled To Death As Mob Tears Doors Off Hinges

(Photo: Koonisutra)

Comments

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  1. lehrdude says:

    Pretty soon we’re going to have Periwinkle Tuesday…

  2. ShruggingGalt says:

    So Black Friday starts at 6 am on Thursday now?

    • henneko says:

      @ShruggingGalt: Why should Christmas get to have all the fun?

    • Coles_Law says:

      @ShruggingGalt: Maybe it’s a Daylight Savings thing?

    • flidget says:

      @ShruggingGalt: The sale doesn’t start any earlier, but by opening the doors such a long time before the sale starts and designating a different line for every major item, the store eliminates the possibility of a huge stampeding crowd.

      • tbax929 says:

        @flidget:
        Bingo. At least that seems to be the benefit of it to me, too.

      • RogerTheAlien says:

        @flidget: But never underestimate the stupidy of people in large groups. There will undoubtedly be idiots who, without reading that the sale doesn’t start until Friday, will line up outside the store on Thursday morning anyway. There will be another stampede. But this time there will also be a riot when they realize they’re fucking morons and got to Wal*Mart a day early.

  3. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    You’d think you’d be able to tell from the comments on that Jdimytai Damour “artwork” that most people find it tasteless and don’t appreciate its “artistic merit.” I think you could have found something better to link to if you want to respect the guy.

    • LandruBek says:

      @Cant_stop_the_rock: Funny, I was thinking just the opposite: I was proud of Ben for posting that artwork last year, even though most people seemingly misunderstood it. I’m glad there’s a link this year to remind people to take a second look.

      No doubt, it is an alarming image, and it makes the viewer (me at least) uncomfortable. If you’re inclined to dismiss it meritless, maybe try reading some of the less knee-jerk comments from last year. The artist said his motive for the image was, in part, how appalled he felt in the aftermath of Damour’s death by trampling. I think the image expresses horror and outrage, and that’s why it strikes one as horrible and outrageous at first. In part it mirrors the utter lack of respect Damour was afforded as shoppers trampled him to death. At the same time it is so coarse that it forces you to face the fact that no one deserves that kind of miserable fate: it makes you reject the pitiless treatment he received, and to give him some posthumous respect and pity. I think it’s really effective art.

  4. Kishi says:

    Wow, I normally feel bad for Wal-mart employees, but that goes double for the people who have to work on freaking Thanksgiving.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Kishi: if they are really lucky walmart pays double time for holidays.
      does anyone know?

    • searonson says:

      @Kishi: Yeah, my first thought is that working in Walmart on Thanksgiving is totally freakin evil! It used to be that, if you worked retail, Thanksgiving and xmas were your only guaranteed days off. Now our corporate overlords are even taking that away.

    • shanoaravendare says:

      @Kishi: The Wal-Mart my Mom works at everyone has to work at least 4 hours on Thanksgiving. Mandatory. Her shift? In the middle of the freaking day.

      • FaustianSlip says:

        @shanoaravendare: That’s just absurd. I worked at Apple and Best Buy for two different Black Fridays, and while I was in super early come Friday morning, we all got Thanksgiving off, at least (and no one was trampled, despite the Best Buy doorbuster stuff- there were carefully-regulated lines and vouchers to prevent that).

        I don’t shop at Walmart often anyway, but now I’m going to avoid them even more. There’s no reason for people to be at frigging Walmart on Thanksgiving day. I’m sorry if someone forgets to buy cranberry sauce, but seriously, suck it up and give the employees one lousy day at home. Jeez.

        • bobateaforyouandme says:

          @FaustianSlip: I agree! I’m assuming that since they’re going to be open all night that customers will camp out in line for the deals IN THE STORE. I’m sure they’ll be asking employees to bring them stuff and just generally being annoying.
          @shanoaravendare: Yeah, I figured they’d made it mandatory. Black Friday is a mandatory work day. I think if I had to work Thanksgiving, I’d start some kind of boycott. That’s just crazysauce.

  5. PsiCop says:

    I agree that continuing to use the word “doorbuster” is in very poor taste, given what happened a year ago. Surely all those creative marketing professionals who work in retail around the country, can get their heads together and come up with something better?

  6. ColoradoShark says:

    Walmart suckage continues. I feel bad for the people who have to work Thanksgiving and will do my little bit to protest by staying away from all open stores that day.

    Exceptions to my attitude are for pharmacies so sick people can get what they need and grocery stores until about noon.

  7. NotYou007 says:

    I just came back from my local Walmart and my chasier was asking a manager about what was going on. My local Walmart is opening at 12:01 AM and the Black Friday sale will start at 5:00 AM and they will have all 32 check out lines open.

    I’m sure some people will camp out infront of certain items but I won’t be there. I will be sleeping :-)

    • coren says:

      @NotYou007: I imagine the lines will start for the midnight opening and then people will hold their items in the nice warm Walmart instead

      • NotYou007 says:

        @coren: I wish I would have asked the manager how they where going to stop people from getting their hands on certain items early. It is a brand new Walmart with lots of space so I’m sure they have a game plan.

  8. putzinaround says:

    its just people behaving badly. i went to staples 2 years ago on black friday, and they handed out vouchers to people like an hour before they opened….they went down the line said who is here for the laptop, they had 40 or so, and handed them out in the order of the line. because people still rush the door right when they open, they see a huge line, but about 10 or 15 minutes before the store opened a bunch of people started to pile up by the door…people that just got there…and we were ticked, but when the late arrivals rushed the door, all the deals were gone, because we had the vouchers. another staples i went to last year had staff at the door and when late comers tried to rush the door the staff told them to get in the back of the line, and would not let them in until everyone in line was in.

  9. lajoan says:

    what does any of this have to do with the poor little baby Jesus?

  10. FangDoc says:

    It also means that Wal-Mart will have to be staffed continuously, reducing the ability of employees to spend any part of Thanksgiving with their families.

  11. jdmba says:

    First off, having a guard or two on the outside, forming a line; instead of letting mobs rush the door would be a start.

    It is VITAL to remember that people who get up at 3AM to stand outside a store are pretty much from the shallow end of the gene pool and so anything is possible. Except for 1 or 2 items reserved for the first people to grab them (assuming the store employees haven’t hidden them anyway), better deals can be found online.

  12. Meddygon says:

    Unrelated to Wal*Mart, but related to “Early black Friday”-

    REI stores will be having a winter sports sale 11/20 through 11/22 with extended hours on all days (roughly 9am to 9 or 10 pm at all stores). Black Friday itself will be 8 AM to 9 or 10.

  13. chadraytay says:

    I’ve seen about 10 lists of the “differences” for this years sale. Other than non-super centers being open 24 hours, there are none. All stores with common sense were already doing the sales this way on their own.

  14. thrashanddestroy says:

    Jesus, really? “Doorbuster” has been used in retail marketing since God only knows when. If you really want to honor the memory of Jdimytai Damour, how about not using such a tacky image some child whipped up in fifth hour graphic design class? I’m sure his family would be more insulted by that than hearing a phrase used since their childhood.

  15. Alys Brangwin can't stop the beat says:

    Buy Nothing Day is only two weeks away! Hooray!

  16. Tawnie is Monster Mashing says:

    I am just waiting for them all to say how dispointing sales were for the 27th. I have seen no deals in what has been leaked online so far. Wal Mart included.

  17. saltyoak says:

    I wish this year we could all vote with our dollars, avoid black Friday, just don’t buy anything, and put the fear of the consumer on Wal- mart

  18. DaWezl says:

    I never bother with Black Friday myself, but I’m wondering what would stop someone from buying the “doorbuster” product at full price a few days before and then coming in and asking for a price adjustment on BF? Usually the ads have been leaked in plenty of time to know what’s going on sale.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @DaWezl: A lot of stores close the customer service desk on BF during doorbuster hours or sometimes for the whole day. It may be in bad taste but it has been done more than once. Just proves that retailers do not care, they just want you to buy all the crap they sell and nothing more.

  19. r386 says:

    so these retailers are spreading out black friday deals for employee safety……. yeah ….. sure ….. it has nothing to do with the likely horrible holiday spending season ahead

  20. Hands says:

    WalMart insured my safety by banning that gay couple for something they didn’t do. Corporate sanctioned bigotry is a great way of saying, “Hands, we don’t want your business.”

  21. Mykro says:

    The Walmart in Greenwood, Indiana has always been open all night on thanksgiving. My aunt and I always arrive around 1am and stake out the black pallets, then we strategize where who’s gonna stand, and we guard them with our lives…

  22. A_smilodon says:

    I’ve never gone to one of these things in my lifetime and don’t plan to start now. Most of the time you can get good deals throughout the Christmas shopping season anyway and if you plan ahead and shop the whole year (Christmas comes around at the same day every year, it’s not a surprise) you can do much better than Black Friday.

  23. duetoprivacy says:

    I was hoping that this was a typo and it was 6pm, not 6am.

    I guess I can’t wrapped my mind around the person that is going to camp out in front of their desired HDTV or to save 60 bucks on whatever their must have electronic of the year is. If you think about it in terms of time is money, thats not really making a good return at all.

  24. henrygates says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: I think that’s what they tried last year, except when the tried to hold people back, the crazy Walmart customers pushed the employees down and trampled them.

    You can have all the protections and planning in place you want, but you can’t stop a huge mob of people. At that point you need a big crazy guy firing a shotgun into the air to stop the chaos.

  25. sonneillon says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: I agree that the mob is primarily at fault for killing that guy, but there are ways to restrict mob mentality and to keep people from freaking out. Forcing them into lines is actually very effective, there is some sort of primitive herding instinct involved. It is amazing what a nylon rope can do.

  26. subtlefrog says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: I also think that the person shopping at CompUSA is looking for a perhaps slightly different gift than the BlackFriday WalMart shopper.

  27. shadowkahn says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: “it isnt their fault a crowd of people run and stomp on each other.”

    Look, when you go in front of the consumerist society that you and your fellow retailers created, and wave something tantalizing like “HDTV for 20 bucks,” and then say it’s only available to the first 10 people who get to the back of the store and lay hands on it, you’re going to have a stampede. Period. Anyone could tell them that. So yeah, it is their fault.

    Like you said about CompUSA, there are easy ways to prevent these stampedes, and Walmart didn’t do it.

  28. el elarmist says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter:
    I disagree, a store should take better precautions. Wal-Mart certainly has the money to hire some real security, not just one guard. It is their responsibility, because they are well aware of the madness of Xmas shoppers.

    And Wal-Mart also has to be aware of its reputation for attracting uncouth shoppers willing to do anything for a cheap item. They are not known for attracting the most sophisticated, well-mannered shopper. It is Wal-Mart. They are an uber-wealthy company. I can’t believe they try to offer low prices by skimping on hiring enough security that wound up killing a lone guard. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  29. XTC46 says:

    @RecordStoreToughGuy_IsBeing(pur)SuedByAMonster: I said stores can and should make those preperations, but at the end of the night, if people are going to stomp on eachother, its not the stores fault. So while stores can, and maybe should, go out of their way to prevent people from being assholes, when they fail, its not really their fault. I can walk into a store at any given time and thorw somone out of my way, and nothing a store is going to do can stop me.

  30. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: Ah. I see what you’re saying now.

  31. henrygates says:

    @dragonfire81: Unless she’s supposed to be cooking it.