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Black Friday: The bad and the ugly

With some 153 million Americans on the hunt for Black Friday deals, was it any surprise that some behaved inappropriately?

By Karen Datko Nov 26, 2011 2:22PM

Pushing, shoving and pepper spray. Can future Black Fridays top the mix of bizarre incidents this year as shoppers competed for doorbusters and other deep discounts?


Here's a wrap-up of bad behavior this Black Friday (not including the several attempted robberies of shoppers who had already left stores): Post continues below.

  • Everyone has by now heard about the Wal-Mart shopper -- still unidentified -- who used pepper spray to shoo others away as a crate of Xbox 360 consoles was being unwrapped late Thursday. Twenty people were treated at the scene for eye irritation or bruising. The woman apparently paid for her stuff and left the store, in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch.
  • A police officer reportedly used pepper spray to disperse an unruly crowd at a Wal-Mart in Kinston, N.C., although one witness said a man had simply fallen into a display and that people were on good behavior.
  • Police twice used a stun gun on an allegedly drunk guy in a Wal-Mart in Florence, Ala.
  • Police tasered a man who allegedly punched another shopper in a Wal-Mart in Milford, Conn., after a third man's child was pushed to the floor near the video games, CBS News reports. (Hint: Leave the kids at home when venturing into such mayhem.)
  • The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio reported: "In the Toledo suburb of Oregon, police responded to three separate reports of fighting at a Wal-Mart on Thursday night, in one case, over towels selling for $1.88."
  • In Buckeye, Ariz., police reportedly slammed a man face down on Wal-Mart's concrete floor when they suspected he was shoplifting. Family members said he merely stuck a video game in his waistband so he could snatch his grandson out of the midst of a frenzied crowd, My Fox Phoenix reports.
  • Apparently disappointed that it wasn't open, looters broke into Hollister's flagship store in New York City about 1:15 a.m.
  • A fistfight was reported in the electronics section of an Escondido, Calif., Wal-Mart store.
  • Another fight involved several of the 1,000 shoppers outside a Best Buy store in Culver City, Calif.
  • Two men fought at a Wal-Mart jewelry counter in Kissimmee, Fla. One man was arrested.
  • Friday was only minutes old when two people suffered minor injuries in a brawl at the Wal-Mart electronics section in Rome, N.Y.

(A Wal-Mart spokesman acknowledged there were a "few unfortunate incidents" at its nearly 4,000 U.S. stores.)


Why do people act like this? CBS News offered this explanation:

The incidents were attributed to two converging Black Friday trends: Crowds are getting bigger as stores open earlier and stay open later. At the same time, cash-strapped shoppers are competing for deals on a small number of gifts that everybody wants -- tablet computers, TVs and game consoles like Xbox, Nintendo 3S and Wii.

Shrinks say that when we gather, individual responsibility can fly out the door. "Our personal values and our behaviors change in a group," psychotherapist Gila Shapiro told the Daily News of Los Angeles. "We lose a sense of individual responsibility. People say, it wasn't me, it was the group that did it."


Susan Denley wrote at the Los Angeles Times that alcohol consumption on Thanksgiving doesn't help.

Yeah, good idea, retail industry. Wait till people are most likely to be tanked up, herd them into crowds, work them into a frenzy thinking they'll save some bucks on limited-quantity TVs and toasters -- and what did you think was going to happen? Yes, the shoppers are to blame for their own behavior, but you need to be better prepared to stop this stuff from happening.

Were you one of the 153 million Americans expected to shop on Black Friday? Were shoppers well-behaved?


More on MSN Money:

Nov 26, 2011 5:02PM
Nov 26, 2011 9:39PM
Wonder what Jesus would think if he saw how some people were preparing to celebrate his birthday?
Nov 26, 2011 4:29PM
Don't people remember what Christmas is all about?  Maybe stores should just go back to regular hours.  I have never seen anything I would get into a fight or hurt someone to get. Very selfish people.
Nov 26, 2011 8:34PM
Didn't go and it didn't have one tiny of a bit of impact on my life.

I refuse to stand in line and act like a animal just to throw money at a retailer.

Nov 27, 2011 1:21AM
Black Friday ????  ....This is a phenomenon of recent years with nothing like this in my youth. Big box stores need to STOP inciting riots like this. It is ludicrous !!!! The over commercialization of Thanksgiving and Christmas is totally disgusting. Corporate America needs to be held accountable for their part in  this madness.
Nov 26, 2011 5:10PM
Oh hype there is but I also went to a Walmart near 9:00 am and it too was dead. If this is the case around the country then it is obvious there is no need to do these door busters at 5 am or midnight etc. You can do them at noon and have just the same effect rather than require employees to take time from their families.

Black Friday is just stupid.People are crazy. In a couple of weeks you will be able to get the merchandise cheaper than on black friday.

Nov 26, 2011 9:45PM
Give that special person a gift card to a nice restaurant for lunch or dinner.  They already have enough "stuff" that is made in China.  And the dinner out keeps money in your town and supports jobs here. 
Nov 26, 2011 8:31PM
I can't imagine what is so important that I would let my family members take a risk of being shot for a pair of jeans or some other silly item .But as you can see Walmart and others have done little about it. If it gets them free advertisement they are all about it. I guess it will take congress to outlaw this type of shopping, and as you can see this will never happen.
Nov 26, 2011 7:16PM
I feel that Wal-Mart & other stores that do these black friday's for Christmas ruined the true meaning, lost sight.  Very disappointed in humanity and the insanity over material needs over a life. It is so sad that the media makes light of it. Dang people there are at least 30 days left to shop, and why take life's over material things. Humans now have proven how ignorant they are, and prove that their moral raising was done by ANIMALS meaning their PARENTS.  I do not have the respect for the stores that feed off of the death of customers, or workers at these stores.  Maybe it is about time to put life before material wants. Want in one hand and crap in the other, while you take a life over Christmas. So now the people that have been killed, hurt, ect.. Leaving family's grieving. Killing over something that will be on sale cheaper later on. SNAFU & FUBAR.
Nov 27, 2011 1:18AM
Let's all get into a frenzied state and fight and injure others for a chance to purchase more cheap Chinese junk for a lower price. Yah-hoo!
Nov 27, 2011 12:00AM
I am just deeply saddened at the behavior of shoppers. This is time of year is suppose to be especially a time for love but the obssesion to compete for Christmas sales has taken that idea away. I heard a personal story in Toys r Us today from a cashier. I asked how things were on Friday. She said it was ok until a customre threw a toy at her. How did she respond? By just staring at the person and saying not a word. It would appear that competing for the sales items is more important than remembering the true reason for the season. Please let's stop this insanity.
Nov 27, 2011 12:57PM
Keep on going out and spending that money you think you have. Fight, push, shove, yell ect.ect.. You are only falling into that consumer trap once again that the economy mongers want you to fall in.
Nov 26, 2011 10:13PM
I did not shop on black friday... I waited to go grocery shopping until today which is Saturday... The Wal-Mart was only as busy as would be on a normal day. I saw piles of game players still waiting for someone to purchase them.. I saw a lot of TVs and other electronics that evidently weren't purchased either... I hope that this was due to people being fed up with Black Friday bull crap. I hope that this means that people are coming to their senses and aren't falling prey to the retail trap of bad selling techniques and companies that only care about their bottom line and not the Season. this year we are only getting one present per person in our family and plan on enjoying more of just being together. We would rather make memories than bills.
Nov 26, 2011 7:40PM

There was reports of Target being dead too.  I hate to everyone spent their money at the very beginning of black Froday when the sales were massive, after that the store will not see many people due to economic conditions.

Wal-Mart cause our jobs to go to China now they weill pay the price.

Nov 27, 2011 1:07AM
Seriously, there were more fistfights than reported. My sister works in a Wal-Mart and she witnessed two fistfights and the store manager had to intercede. Is this worth it? The marketing departments of these retailers lack a lot to be desired in creative marketing. Anyone can stampede the cattle with super discount on a handful of items. I wonder if these retailers ever think that the may have 200 hundred customers lined up to get on of the twenty items available. This means the retailer made twenty people happy and royally teed off 180 other people. Is this what they truly want? Do they want disappointed and angry customers? I would hope not. Time for marketing to earn their salaries and come up with some safer alternative attractions.
Nov 28, 2011 12:00PM

All the more reason why Black Friday should be outlawed, it is disgusting and shameful to see mankind reduced to acting like a bunch of greedy animials. I am sure the giant retail corporations wouldn't hear of doing away with it because they don't care who gets, trampled, shot or crushed in the name of profits.

Nov 27, 2011 6:25PM
Black Friday has much similarity to Dog fighting which is illegal, whereas organized shopping events Including Black Thursday now too, that result in human injury and death are legal!! Retailers and consumers know the harm that can ensue by only offering limited amount of a good for below retail cost.  Yet this practice, that is targeted towards the lower middle class are  allowed to market this limited availability of goods. Often having more in their inventory, but desperate for the sale of other merchandise, know you will come back to the store to check, and sell you other items.  In my opinion, this is a violation of human rights, under crimes against humanity.. Sad to say but our pets have more better laws to protect them from perverse treatment then we do. If only dogs could only talk....Shame on the greedy retailers and organizers who propagate this morally wrong and debauched event.
Nov 26, 2011 11:28PM
We avoided stores. A local art museum has free admission Friday, Saturday, Sunday this week.
It was 59 degrees out on Friday,so we took in the outdoor sculpture gardens before heading inside. This might have been our last opportunity to see the entire museum in 3 months.
Today, the temp was in the low 40s and the wind-chill in the teens. We'd have missed so much jostling about in overheated store(s) for prices that we'll see again the 15th of next month as the merchants look at still-high inventories and get desperate.

Nov 26, 2011 8:16PM
Yes it is terrible that these sales go on like this but the only way it is going to stop is people are going to have to stop going to these sales. Once the stores get the idea then maybe they will stop putting out the ads.
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