Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day. Since 1932, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Holiday Shopping Season and most major retailers open very early and stay open late due to large promotions on top selling items. The term Black Friday originated in the early 60’s to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.
For at least 30 years there have been reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday. Despite frequent attempts to control the crowds of shoppers, injuries are common among the crowds; usually as a result of being pushed or thrown to the ground in stampedes as a popular business opens it’s doors to the awaiting crowds of people.
The first account of death as a direct result of Black Friday was in 2008 when a crowd of approximately 2,000 anxious shoppers waited outside a Wal-Mart store to open on and when the doors were opened the crowd pushed forward, breaking the door down. An employee was trampled to death in the stampede. The shoppers refused to halt their stampede as other employees attempted to intervene and help the injured employee. Shoppers had begun assembling as early as 9:00 PM the evening before. Several other people incurred minor injuries, including a pregnant woman who had to be taken to the hospital.
On the same day, two people were fatally shot during an altercation at a Toys ‘R’ Us in California.
Shoppers have used all types of weapons, from knives to guns and even pepper spray to get ahead of each other. Many aggressive shoppers simply overpower others with physical violence to grab the last of a bargain in inventory.
Here are some tips to keep your Black Friday Safe & Thrifty
Shopping with Children
Due to the potentially violent atmosphere of the day, we recommend you do not take children shopping in large crowds, but if you must:
Keep children close to you by holding hands or having them hold on to your clothing in crowded situations.
Teach children to know their full name, address and your cell phone number.
Teach children that it is only safe to seek help from people in security or police uniforms or behind the counter of a store.
Carry up-to-date information about your children on your person; photo, fingerprints, and any forms of ID to share with security to aid in identifying your child if he or she is lost in the crowd.
DO NOT allow your child to go to a restroom or any other area alone.
How to make your Black Friday shopping trip safer and smarter
Any time there is a large, anxious crowd converging the mixture of personalities can result in dangerous situations. As a result of this intense atmosphere, people are distracted and can easily fall victim to other dangers outside of violence such as theft. With that in mind:
If you plan to camp out in dark hours prior to a store opening, do not do it alone – have someone with you and be sure your cell phone is fully charged in case you need to contact police for assistance.
Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels while in crowded situations.
When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings. Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area. Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
Dress casual and comfortable without straps or scarves hanging from your attire, avoid wearing expensive jewelry and keep long hair tied in an up-style.
If possible, carry your cash and credit cards on your person instead of carrying a purse or wallet. Be sure to carry your ID as well and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Purses and Wallets are prime targets for thieves in crowded situations.
Keep a record of all your credit card numbers (recommended: photograph the front and back of each) and notify your credit card issuer immediately if your card is lost, stolen or misused.
Avoid carrying more packages than you can easily handle even if you have to make multiple trips to your vehicle to carefully store these packages in your trunk that is better than the distraction of handling multiple packages in a crowd.
Beware of any strangers approaching you. Con-artists thrive during the holiday season working together with methods of distracting you while taking your money or belongings.
If you must use an ATM machine choose one indoors and preferably with a security guard nearby and be sure to shield your PIN number when entering it. Also, keep your ATM receipt on your person instead of disposing of it publically.
Please remember the following advice for your online shopping security
Some people avoid the dangers of Black Friday crowds by choosing to shop online bargains instead. In recent years, many business have incorporated the bargains to their websites to make the experience more convenient for shoppers. However, there are other threats possible when shopping online that also need to be recognized:
Secure your personal computers by updating your security software.
Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact.
Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to buy for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and changes to a company logo.