But clearly throngs of people enjoy the tradition of discount shopping on Black Friday. The crowds of consumers looking for bargains, however, can often get crazy.
In 2008, a Wal-Mart temporary worker, hired for the holiday, was trampled to death on Long Island as an estimated 2,000 people raced to snag sale items when the doors opened (or were smashed) at 5 a.m. The worker died of asphyxiation.
In 2005, at a Wal-Mart in Grand Rapids, Mich., a pregnant woman had to be taken to the hospital after being knocked down by fellow shoppers. Ranker.com has compiled a video list of the 13 most brutal Black Friday incidents.
Now several major retailers are planning to start the Black Friday madness even sooner. As I wrote in my column Wednesday, many stores are planning Thanksgiving openings. Toy “R” Us is opening at 9 p.m. and Wal-Mart at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving day.
If past habits play out, that means people will have to leave their families to line up for the deals after dessert.
Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee, has started an online petition on Change.org hoping to persuade Target to cancel the early opening. “Thanksgiving is about family and spending quality time with the people you love,” Hardwick told me.
Of course, you can avoid the mall madness and still buy items for the Black Friday price by shopping online. The Washington Post has a complete guide for Black Friday shoppers, including tips from the Associated Press on buying downloadable gifts.
Do you have plans to spend wildly this holiday season or scale back, and if so, why? Send your comments to this week’s Color of Money Question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Black Friday Foolishness” in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name, city and state.
I suppose the people who are lining up for Black Friday sales aren’t the cynical consumers who answered a recent Nielsen poll, which found that nine out of 10 Americans believe the country is still in a recession, reports The Washington Post’s Ylan Q. Mui.
“This persistent pessimism has perplexed economists,” Mui writes. “Economists say something will have to give — Americans will perk up or, more worrisome, the recovery will conform to their low expectations.”
Still, the worry doesn’t stop some people from shopping.
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Beware of Retailers Bearing Gift Cards
Many companies are luring shoppers, diners and theater-goers by offering promotional gift cards, reports Brad Tuttle of Times.com.
AMC Theaters is giving away a $5 gift card good for concession items for each $30 spent on gift cards. Outback Steakhouse is offering a $20 card for each $100 gift card purchased.