Shopping. Seems like a pretty safe activity, except maybe for your credit card balance. However, safety isn't always guaranteed when you participate in Black Friday madness. Take heed.
It's difficult to believe that people would get so intent on saving money that death would result, but that's exactly what happened in 2008. A mob of shoppers at a Long Island, N.Y. Walmart smashed through front doors and trampled an employee, resulting in his death. Four shoppers were also injured.
In a less violent (but equally sad) incident in 2011, a man dropped dead of a heart attack in a West Virginia Target and went nearly unnoticed as shoppers worked around his body to grab deals from the shelves.
Out-of-control mobs may not be the norm, even for Black Friday shopping experiences, but large crowds are. And with large crowds of people all eager to get the same deal on the same items, you're going to deal with some pushing and shoving. Shopping injuries may usually fall into the minor category, but it does beg the question: is that great discount on a set of sheets really worth the bruises you'll have for the next week?
More recently, there was tragedy in a Walmart parking lot in Tallahassee, Fla., where a man and woman were shot during an argument over a parking spot. Though their injuries weren't fatal, the severity of the reaction to something as meaningless as a parking dispute demonstrates how easily people lose perspective on Black Friday.
A full list of Black Friday deaths and injuries can be found at Blackfridaydeathcount.com.
Both foot traffic on sidewalks and vehicular traffic will increase before, during and after Black Friday. Heavy traffic may not be hazardous, but it's certainly not pleasant. Don't count on making quick exits and entrances. Do count on standing in long lines to make your purchases, and expect a very slow pace when navigating store parking lots.
Since Black Friday discounts attract such a large number of shoppers, stores can't always keep up with the demand for products on sale. You may brave the traffic, risk the injury and make it to your store just to find that they've sold out of the product you wanted.
If your store of choice hasn't sold out of your product of choice, you face another pitfall of Black Friday shopping: the other shoppers competing for that same product. Ask any seasoned Black Friday shopper and you'll get war stories of shoppers grabbing toys and electronics, fighting over discounted items, grabbing products from other people's shopping carts and topping off the whole experience with insults and expletives.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to Black Friday shopping, common sense should prevail. If you can handle the potential problems and it's worth your potential gain, venture forth with good grace, a few snacks and patience. And maybe wear a helmet. (To know your options for Black Friday Shopping, check out: Shopping Online: Convenience, Bargains And A Few Scams.)