Malls Try To Impose Order, Prevent More Christmas Break Brawls

Image courtesy of Kat N.L.M.

On Dec. 26 at malls across the country, what appears to be a very loosely coordinated series of brawls and mass hysteria broke out in malls, mostly beginning in the food courts and spiraling outward. Mall operators would really prefer if this didn’t happen again for the rest of the holiday season. Or ever.

In an interview with USA Today (warning: auto-play video), security consultant Chris McGoey pointed out the common threads between the mall brawls across the country.

While no police department has turned up evidence yet of national planning over social media, it couldn’t be a coincidence that similar incidents happened among kids who are around the same age, at the same time of day, featuring the same kinds of disruptions and even similar false reports to emergency services of gunshots.

“If you look at where many of these incidents occurred, they are in cold climates,” McGoey said. “Added to that, it happened the day after Christmas, most of these individuals were school-age children and they have nothing to do.”

Well, okay, but Monday was just the first day of a weeklong break for most students across the country. Where does that leave mall operators during future school breaks and weekends?

In a climate where they face competition from online shopping, malls don’t want to discourage shoppers or future shoppers from coming to malls. At the same time, packs of roving teens aren’t a welcome sight to customers with money to spend.

The Aurora, IL Beacon-News reports that a task force of mall operators held a conference call about security measures on Tuesday, and discussed the merits and possible downsides of measures like banning shoppers under 18 when not accompanied by an adult.

105 malls across the country have such policies. The times that they go into effect differ, but teen escort policies usually go into effect on weekend evenings and certain mischief-laden holidays and days off school.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.