Is Black Friday Dangerous?

Evan McClure, Staff Writer

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November), and is often seen as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In the last decade or so, Black Friday has become the biggest shopping day of the year, and many retail stores make the majority of their profits during the holiday shopping season.

In the last decade, Black Friday has taken on a different meaning for many Americans, being a day when crowds of people line up in the middle of the freezing night, literally becoming “door-busters,” rushing off to grab whatever they can get their hands on, crowding in the checkout lines, and going home.

For a number of unlucky Americans, Black Friday was painful; for a few people, Black Friday was fatal. According to Black Friday Death Count, between 2006-2013, there have been 90 injuries and seven deaths related to Black Friday shopping. People have gotten into brawls, been trampled to death, stabbed over gifts, shot over TV’s and parking spaces, robbed, and others have been pepper-sprayed. That’s only a few of the incidents listed, but that doesn’t account for the possibility of other unnamed people who have been injured as a result of Black Friday shopping.

Not to mention the amount of people who ended up becoming exhausted from crowding closely together, running with as many products as a person can get a hold of, the ensuing chaos at the checkout lines, and the traffic jams that occur in the parking lots, and on the streets in the area of these stores.

Retail stores such as Target and Walmart have been criticised for allowing these incidents to continue by encouraging mobs of people to crash through their doors in the early morning, but in many ways, it’s not just their faults. Some would have said that the responsibility rests on an individual to be on their best behavior in public. This is true, but it’s not as simple as that.

Just telling people to respect their fellow man isn’t going to stop this kind of every-man-for-himself attitude anytime soon. Some would argue that on Black Friday, the rules for good conduct change drastically. This is also true. The question is whether or not risking one’s life for gifts is worth it.

In the grand scheme of things, the number of deaths and injuries from the last eight Black Friday’s is very miniscule. The vast majority of Black Friday shoppers escape their local retail stores unscathed, and without incident. The economy also gets a massive boost from Black Friday, and during the holiday shopping season. In total, this equates to billions of dollars in revenue each year. Most of this money goes towards companies themselves, but many workers are not given better pay during this time, which is another issue entirely.

The choice is up to consumers themselves, whether or not they want to brave the crowds of freezing and tired shoppers, or wait until a later date to get their shopping done.