The nation’s most commercial and notoriously violent holiday has been known to bring out the rage in all of us.
Last year, a woman in Philadelphia pulled a stun gun on another family inside the Franklin Mills Mall. In a New Jersey Walmart, police were forced to pepper spray an unruly shopper. And who knows? Boston could be next.
“This is a problem that we run into every year, and it seems to be escalating,” said John Roberts, a Georgia-based security consultant who has worked 38 years in the security industry.
Retailers draw chaotic crowds by promoting door busters and midnight sales, Roberts said, though they do little to ensure the safety of their customers.
“Big box retailers are guilty of promoting these things and knowingly understaffing their security. It’s purely financial They don’t want to hire the people,” said Roberts. “Very often when they do hire the warm bodies, they’re not trained to deal with the phenomenon.”
But why does Back Friday bring out the crazy in shoppers? Roberts says it boils down to our competitive nature.
“Shoppers like the adrenaline rush of pushing through the door, grabbing things and getting deals. It is a climate of apprehension and excitement,” Roberts said.
If shoppers insist on braving the frenzied crowds on Black Friday, Roberts suggests shoppers stay safe by arriving early in the day to avoid walking to their cars at night. Shoppers should also opt for parking spots that are close to the door.
“The most dangerous aspect might be the walk back to the car,” he said. “Violent encounters often happen over parking spots.”
It’s also common for fights to break out over shoppers cutting the line and grabbing the last item from the shelf. In those instances, Roberts urges shoppers to keep their cool.
“Don’t fight over anything. Respond to the best of your abilities, and try to deescalate the situation,” he said.
Walmart is the most dangerous place to shop on Black Friday, according to new figures from data analytic site Silk, which shows that 66 percent of the 89 reported Black Friday injuries since 2006 happened in the world’s largest retail chain.
Nearly half the injuries came from shoppers using pepper spray. Stampedes and fist fights also accounted for many of the injuries.
In 2011, a woman pepper-sprayed her fellow shoppers, including children, for a Black Friday XBox sale in a Los Angeles Walmart . CNN reported that 20 people were treated for minor injuries in that incident. The woman responsible paid for her purchases and left before police arrived.
The chaos was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube.