Make this Black Friday a safe one

There are some people who get the ultimate rush by waking up early and waiting in line for some amazing door buster deals at the stores. Although Black Friday is one of the hotly anticipated shopping events for shoppers to score momentous deals, it has also proven a recipe for disaster.

Stampeding masses of eager shoppers has been all too common on Black Friday through the years. Coupled with anticipation of impending sales and the sheer volume of shoppers waiting outside of stores, mob mentality often prevails. It’s survival of the fittest as some shoppers push, shove, and run inside of doors to nab the must-have products on sale.

In 2008, a sales clerk was trampled to death by a crowd of 2,000 people who knocked the man to the ground at a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, NY. Later the same day, two people were shot dead at a Toys ‘R’ Us store in Southern California after an argument. Many store employees have tales of picking up trampled people who have been run over at various retailers on Black Friday.

Although “Black Friday” refers to a store’s profit margin and their ability to be “in the black” when tallying end-of-year sales, the moniker does seem to have an ominous feel to it. “Black Friday” seems to conjure up images of something bad happening. When unruly mobs race into stores, something bad just may happen.

Last year, Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was quoted as saying, “Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years. Many of these incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan.”

Just what is a crowd-management plan? OSHA has developed a guide for retailers to help avoid accidents and mayhem. The National Retail Federation also issued guidelines for similar promotional events that draw crowds. Contingency plans for larger-than-expected crowds should be put into place, as should thorough communication plans.

Some stores have implemented their own policies, including requiring wrist bands to control the amount of people in the store at any given time. Other stores have formed lines in separate areas to avoid crowds at the front of the stores.

Individuals shopping can also do their part. While Black Friday shopping has become a tradition for many, oftentimes better deals can be had at different points in the holiday season.

Some argue that shopping on Thanksgiving Day yields better sales and that those door busters are only ways to draw you into the store for other products that don’t have the same wow factor. Keep in mind that many online retailers also offer Black Friday sales that are comparable and you don’t have to wait outside in the cold to get them.

Should you still go to a favorite brick-and-mortar store in the wee hours of the morning, experts urge putting personal safety above saving money.

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