Anxious retailers and shoppers create Black Friday frenzy
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Retailers anxious to get a jump on the vital holiday shopping season in a tough economy started their early-bird sales Thanksgiving night instead waiting until Friday morning. And, shoppers hungry for highly advertised special deals swept through the stores often creating more than the usual mayhem.
Most shoppers experienced harried but otherwise happy late-night bargain-hunting. But, the earlier hours and heavy advertising for big discounts on electronics, household goods and clothing heated up unrealistic consumer demand for limited numbers of products, often with volatile results.
Outside Los Angeles, a woman pepper-sprayed at least 20 fellow shoppers to save some money on an Xbox console, paying up and getting out before cops arrived. In Ohio and Michigan, women "came out swinging" over discounted bath towels. The results were at times serious, with several shootings reported and one confrontation ending with an Arizona grandfather lying bloodied and unconscious.
Over the complaints of many workers and some consumers, Wal-mart started its sales at 10 p.m. Thursday and Target, Macy’s, Best Buy and Kohl's moved their sales up to midnight.
"Everybody's worried about Christmas," says Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, a South Carolina firm that tracks shopper trends. "These midnight openings are just a reflection of retailers saying they can't take any chances."
But in the end, buyers spent $11.4 billion at retail stores and malls, up nearly $1 billion from last year, according to a Saturday report from ShopperTrak. It was the largest amount ever spent on the day that marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and the biggest year-over-year increase since 2007. Chicago-based ShopperTrak gathers data from 25,000 outlets across the U.S.
Target clerk says: "A midnight opening robs workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day. A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation. All Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night's rest on Thanksgiving." -- Anthony Harwich, Target employee in Omaha, Neb.
Professor says: . "Once you get that emotional predisposition to go buy something, the floodgates open and people sort of lose their control." -- Bob Robicheaux, University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Wal-Mart says: "It's been a very safe event at thousands of Wal-Mart stores" despite “a few unfortunate incidents." – Greg Rossiter, spokesman for the chain where many of the violent incidents occurred.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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