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Dangers of Black Friday

Updated on September 23, 2014
Typical image of people waiting in line for Black Friday shopping.
Typical image of people waiting in line for Black Friday shopping. | Source

Coining the Term

Historically, there are various explanations as to how the term "Black Friday" was coined. The more notable origins stem from the 60s where the term was first introduced to give meaning to the massive hustle and bustle on the streets of Philadelphia. The term loosely associates black with negative connotations, associating it to vehicular traffic as well as disruptive pedestrian traffic that would usually occur after the Thanksgiving Holiday. It wasn't until the 70s when the term found its way out of of the city it originated from. Much of the meaning has been lost; however, the original meaning to the busiest shopping day is holding to be more true year after year with the emergence of "better deals."

How does Black Friday work?

As each year passes, retailers are opening their doors earlier and earlier. It was commonplace for many retailers to open their doors at 6 AM for many years. Up until recently, stores have been opening their doors as early as 4:00 AM, taking away from Thanksgiving. Many people on thursday, thanksgiving, spend the day with family and friends. However, as the stores open earlier and earlier, people are forced to leave their gatherings earlier and prepare to travel to their destinations sometimes 6 hours or earlier in advance to find parking and most importantly queue up in line. Holding true to its original meaning, traffic would pile up and often causing many consumers to wait in traffic for hours before getting to their destinations. Thus, placing black friday above the thanksgiving holiday.

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The "door buster"
The "door buster"

The 40" HDTV

Since 2000, the HDTV has been the main culprit for the massive lines that form outside stores on black friday. As stores offer more and more deals on TVs, the lines that start to form in the wee hours of the morning are beginning to get longer and longer. It's been reported literally thousands of people would line up outside big box stores like Walmart or Bestbuy just to be able to get a chance to get one of these HDTVs for an insane deal that can only be bought on that day. As more and more deals emerge, so are the risks and dangers.

Deals Galore

Other than the HDTV, there are various deals retailers offer to draw consumer attention. For example:

- Hotels are showing signs of getting into the black friday spirit by offering 50% discounts on rooms and offer other amenities.

- Stores at the mall offer up to 60% discounts for those who participate in the early shopping when stores open up.

- Auto dealers also jumping on the black friday wagon, offering alluring deals to consumers who might want to take advantage of the great deals.

- All sorts of retailers who didn't participate in past black friday are now wanting to participate by offering great deals to lure consumers.

Scams and Risks

As deals pile up, there is a big chance for risk. There are always scammers that will want a chance at your wallet as well, and quite often the scammer is the retailer itself. It's important to know how to observe and avoid possible scams.

When shopping for big ticket items, it's good to do your research and know the item through reviews and the price. Often times, many consumers will go in and buy the item without doing the proper research. Not doing this will allow for retailers to possibly scam you out of buying the actual item you've been standing in line for.

Often times, retailers will sell a less superior item. For example, if you go in wanting the TV-Matic 3000, it's quite common place for the retailer to sell a less superior model of that brand. It may look like that higher priced models but is definitely less superior with fewer options and features.

The dreaded rebate, it's very important to read the fine print of the deal. If you go in wanting to get this TV-Matic 3000 for $200 (yeah right) but in the fine print of the ad it reads you need to buy it for $400 and submit a proof of purchase to get the $200 mail in rebate; thus, requiring you to put down more up front. Almost always, rebates can get tedious and a lot of times, we can forget about it making it more likely for the you to be scammed to pay a higher price for the item.

Doors open for black friday shopping.
Doors open for black friday shopping.

The "Door Buster"

Possibly the single most dreaded item for employees...

This item is typically associated with HDTVs but have recently been associated with gaming consoles. This one item is typically the big ticket item that many consumers line up for. Unfortunately, this one item draws so much attention that violence can easily follow. Often, door busters are almost exclusively in limited supply. Ads will mention there will be a limited supply often not giving out a number or sometimes stating how much is in supply. Once in line, retailer employees will come out to announce how many is in stock and will let consumers in line know if they are the lucky few who will get the prized item. Typically, it will be the first 10-30 people in the front of the line who will have get the TV. This way is typically the BEST way to approach door busters. By stating the number and who will get the item, there will be very few outbreaks of violence. By having the item in storage, the 10-30 people in line will get the door buster item without having people rushing and possibly causing a stampede to happen.

Unfortunately, not every retailer will make this accommodation for safety. Some retailers will offer the first 10-30 people coupons to buy the TV rather than giving the first 10-30 people automatic exclusive eligibility to buy the item. This will allow for stampedes to happen more often than not, this results with injuries and possible death of consumers and employees of the retailing store.

Violence Outbreak

Violence is often a by-product of standing in line for many hours, waiting in the cold, and lacking sleep. Wanting to be the first one to get that door busting item can often spark a lot of confrontation. In recent years, more and more reports of people getting trampled in order to get exclusive items have been on the rise. The more notable reports have made headline news.

Man nearly dies after getting trampled: "I don't want to die here..."

Woman threatens to shoot other consumers.

Riot behavior at Wal-Mart during black friday


There are various dangers every consumer should consider before setting foot outside their homes thanksgiving night. More often than not, these days it is imperative that consumers know what to avoid and how to approach shopping around that busy time. There have been many petitions to help quell the various violent episodes that happened in past black fridays. Many petitions have suggested a higher tax on items to possibly stop many consumers before even considering leaving the house. By suggesting the high tax, it will allow consumers to think twice before waiting in line and enduring all these obstacles and also allow retailers to think twice before selling that item. The right and wrong of this petition is still debatable; however, if it can stop one person from getting injured and help keep the violent chaos in check and possibly save lives, this petition is definitely worth considering.


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    • ologsinquito profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Good article. I prefer shopping online rather than dealing with brick and mortar stores.


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