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Wal-Mart Stampede: Blame the Retailer

The Tragedy

As you’ve probably heard by now, a temporary worker assigned to a Walmart in Long Island, New York, was trampled to death early Friday morning, by shoppers looking for doorbuster sales. “Doorbuster” turned out to be an unfortunately accurate term here, as, according to the New York Times, the crowd literally broke through the store’s sliding glass doors, minutes before the scheduled 5 a.m. opening.

Although I was appalled when I heard the news, I cannot honestly say that I was surprised. For years now, Black Friday has seemed like a tragedy waiting to happen. Every year, we hear reports of minor injuries: someone knocked to the floor, a blackened eye, a broken toe… whenever groups of people with a mob mentality repeatedly gather, the worst case scenario will eventually end up playing itself out, and that’s exactly what happened early Friday morning in Long Island. It certainly isn’t the first time we’ve seen this type of behavior.

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  • Why blame only the retailer? What part does the media play? If I didn't know better, I would think that "Black Friday" was the second coming of Christ and he was arriving at the mall.
  • DFGum
    Or how about just larger quanities and over a longer period of time. A whole week, with more in stock please.
  • Typical media blabering about the evil Corporate empire. Doesn't anyone take responsibility for their own actions any more? Not in this country, where it's always someone else to blame. Shame on Wal-Mart for not having better doors. But if you knock on the front door and no one answers, you absolutely shouldn't break the door down!
  • m@rc
    wow, shame on people like that becoming wild animal... and all that because they could potentially save a few hundred $. I mean c'mon. As soon as we start talking money the brain isn't supposed to turn off. WTF. Let's say you'd like to get a HD TV and you might get 300 $ off on that day. If you cannot get it, the world doesn't end there. 300$ is what maybe a week of hard work maximum...

    I guest it might help if the retailer add online rebates only for a few article (the most expensive ones) or spread out the deals on the hole weekend.
  • noahjwhite
    I heard this story on the news while I was safely shopping at home online. Many of the deals... not the best ones... were available online and could be purchased and picked up at the stores later. I make a special effort to stay indoors at all times during black Friday. This year the media hype was ridiculous and ultimately misleading. I didn't see many "true deals" meaning deals for products that were substantially lower than normal sales. Most were at best 10% less than normal.

    Personal responsibility is certainly expected but I do believe that Walmart shares responsibility. I think most people where out to get that Samsung HDTV for $789 or whatever it was. Good deal yes... fantastic deal... no. That was a special TV manufactured by Samsung (they cut plenty of corners) in order to lower the price $100 off the existing model. Are you really saving anything?

    I think the lottery system is a great idea. Best Buy has done this before. I remember when the PS3 first came out (yes - it was in demand for a week or so :)) There was a huge line.. they handed out numbers. The numbers called got a ticket to purchase the PS3. No Ticket... no purchase. This approach could work... but I also remember those PS3 Ticket holders scalping their ticket for thousands of dollars. (not good either)
  • pug_s
    I don't agree with Tony with putting in a lottery system to get your tv or laptop because the that's not the problem. I talked with my friends on Turkey day on whether we should go to that Walmart on Black Friday and they advised me not to do that and I was glad. I distinctly remember going to Circuit City near the Walmart in question last year when they handed out tickets for an HDTV and the mob literally try to take the tickts off from the Employees and the Employees ran back inside the store in fear. There was a line to the CC store until a group of people bum rushed toward the front of the store and everybody just crammed in front of the store. By the time the store opened at 5pm, the mob from the back literally pushed people toward in front of the store and broke the automatic sliding door. The local NYPD don't do crowd control because there was about at least 700 people there. I was lucky enough to get inside the store after being packed like in a sardine can for an hour and I was lucky enough the get an HDTV. If I had to do it again, I would not do the same thing.

    I've seen some of the videos and I have no doubt that this is the similiar situation happened on last Friday on Walmart as I have experienced once before. I could imagine a crowd of 2000 would have enough force to push and break down the door to the local Walmart. According to local media, the Nassau Cops were there but decided to do nothing because they simply could not handle a mob of 2000 people. Next year, I personally like to see the local media come in at 4am and videotape the people who are pushing the crowd toward the store and then shame them because this mob mentality is simply not acceptable.
  • saljr
    I blame manufacture Sony,Samsung,Microsoft,Mitsubishi,LG and Etc. They create fizzie too.
  • WTF? bleame the retailer?...what about the crowd....this looks like a walmart in Somalia giving out free food samples to a crowd of animals..check out,0,2766609.photogallery
  • specter_jester
    life is cheap today for those who have the money power.
  • Better idea. SELL tickets from a prominent in-store booth at the front of the store in the weeks running up to Black Friday, not give them out on the morning itself. For instance, to be in the first 20 through the doors you pay $80 a ticket, second 20 $60, third 20 $40 etc etc. You redeem part or all the cost of the tickets when they are presented at the checkout when a purchase is made. So the store manages how many people get into the store at any one time and then increases the likehood of them making a purchase once they're in.

    The sizes of the batches of people and the cost of the tickets can be adjusted according to the size of the store and how much they want to manage the process.

    The store still might need to hire some barriers and security staff to manage the crowd. But at least the situation is partially managed already.