What causes people to kick, shove and even stab each other on Black Friday?
Each year there are reports of violence during the Black Friday sales. Last year, in Philadelphia - the City of Brotherly Love, no less - two families fought until one of the women ended matters with a stun gun. In a New Jersey Walmart, a belligerent shopper had to be pepper sprayed by police. And in Virginia, one man slashed another with a knife in an argument over a parking spot. This year, there are sure to be similar cases.
The reasons are primal.
We are all “hardwired” for violence under the right set of circumstances. Fortunately, those circumstances are rare (increasingly so), but do occasionally occur.
So what conditions set the stage for possible violence on Black Friday? The first is a valuable reward - something we are highly motivated to obtain. On Black Friday, the reward is a bargain. And people love bargains. In part, this is because we tend to view price reduction as a gain — as something for nothing. Consider that, shopping and saving at the very same time!
But getting a deal is also affirming, exciting, and allows us to enjoy products that would normally be out of our reach. People will wait overnight in freezing weather for the chance to get a good deal. They will also buy stuff they have absolutely no need for, simply because it is on sale. How many of us can look no further than the closet to see evidence of this?
That alone shouldn’t inspire people to violence though — a few more key ingredients are needed.
The second condition is competition. And the competition originates in the limited number of products that are typically offered at the most heavily discounted prices, the “door-buster” items. Not only are these items more desirable due to their larger discount, but there are typically only a small number of them available.
This means one shopper’s gain is another shopper’s loss, a psychological zero-sum game. Factor into that the sheer quantity of people waiting to rush once the doors open - last year Macy’s saw over 15,000 eager shoppers waiting to get in - and you have a level of competition like no other time of year.
Now we’re starting to talk about some classic violence-inducing conditions: massive competition for a very limited number of high-value resources. Our behavior, however, is also severely constrained by relevant social norms. That brings us to the third relevant condition: the presence or absence of norms that might promote or prevent violent behavior.
CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio - A week and a half before ‘Black Friday’ and campers are already lining up outside the Best Buy on Howe Road to get their hands on the best of the bargains.
Jonas Allooh is the first in line, putting up his tent at 5 p.m. on Monday.
He said this is the third year for him, although he has a friend who has been staking claim to a place in line for the past seven years.
Inside their tent are all of the comforts of home: a bed, a microwave, a television and most importantly heaters.
“It’s cold; it’s windy, and sometimes it rains and snows, so you have to be careful and make sure you stay warm.” said Allooh.
Next door to him is another long-time Black Friday camper, Tony Avitar, who has made it a tradition for the past eleven years.
“I think it was the second year I did it; nobody had the bright idea of camping out in tents. So, we just did sleeping bags on the sidewalk, and it was freezing rain for sixteen hours,” said Avitar.
Both have friends and family who take turns staying there in shifts, including Tony’s parents.
“He had to go take a shower so we’re here filling in for him until he gets back,” said his mother Janet Regic, who cooks for her son, and actually waited in line last year in a wheelchair.
WTF is wrong with these people? I just can’t even.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that protects workers’ rights to organize and demand better conditions, will announce a decision today to prosecute Walmart for violating workers’ rights by firing, disciplining, and threatening workers who went on strike or attempted to unionize, according to OUR Walmart, the group that has been helping to organize the strikes.
The group says the NLRB will prosecute the company for illegally firing and disciplining more than 117 workers, including some who went on strike last June. It also includes threats by managers and spokespeople meant to discourage workers from striking. Workers could potentially see back pay, reinstatement to their former positions, and the reversal of disciplinary actions. Neither the NLRB or Walmart returned a request for comment by the time of publication.
Workers have gone on strike multiple times over the past year, with a wave of 400 walking out on Black Friday last year. The latest saw strikes in three cities over a week-long period. Workers have been demanding higher pay, more full-time work, and an end to retaliation.
But workers have repeatedly claimed that they are fired or disciplined for going on strike. The company itself has also admitted to threatening workers who look into forming unions that their benefits could disappear if they organize.
Not all Walmart workers were so enthused about turning Thanksgiving into a working day, however. A petition against Walmart’s holiday hours that was posted on change.org noted that “Thanksgiving is a time for family,” and “other large corporations, such as Home Depot, close their doors.”
“Most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving, I understand that Walmart is a staple in many towns, but everyone survives it being closed on Christmas. As a single mother, it breaks my heart to know that I won’t be able to spend that time with my son,” the author of the petition, who identified herself on the site as Stephenie Ritter, wrote.
On Monday, Walmart EVP Duncan Mac Naughton said such complaints are the minority. Store “associates are really excited to work that day. It’s a pretty high-energy day for associates as well.”
If I put into words how I really felt about this person, I’d never been seen on this site again. I just really can’t stand the way blue collar workers are shafted year after year because of Black Friday nonsense. I can just about guarantee that virtually NONE of these out of touch corporate execs will be working the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The article also notes, Wal-Mart is offering a turkey dinner for employees that have to come in that night, but I have no doubt that’s little consolation to the workers who have to give up time with their families to come in and work a shopping day that gets more out of hand each year.
This NEEDS TO STOP. Thanksgiving is being almost completely destroyed by these profit mad corporations.
Is it really too much to ask that retail employees get ONE GUARANTEED DAY OFF a year?
This really is madness and it breaks my heart.
More people hit the stores this Thanksgiving weekend than did last year, as big-box retailers opened their doors earlier than ever on Thursday.
Spending per shopper averaged $423 — $25 more than last year — from Thursday to Sunday, while total spending increased nearly 13 percent, to an estimated $59.1 billion, according to a survey the National Retail Federation released Sunday afternoon.
“I think the only way to describe the Thanksgiving openings is to call it a huge win,” said Matthew Shay, the trade group’s president and chief executive. Shopping, he said, “has really become an extension of the day’s festivities.”
About 35 million people visited stores and shopping websites Thursday, up from 29 million last year. More than double that number — 89 million, up from 86 million — shopped on Black Friday.
Black Friday was a big day in stores, but Thanksgiving was apparently a big shopping day online.
Data from online consumer analytics firm Experian Hitwise shows online traffic on the holiday increased 71 percent this year compared to the same day a year ago. It says the top 500 retail sites received more than 181 million total U.S. visits.
Experian’s Matt Tatham wrote in a blog post that online traffic to the top retail sites has been up 8 percent on average for the holiday week.
The most visited retail sites on Thanksgiving Day were Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Sears. On Black Friday, they were Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and J.C. Penney Co. According to Experian Hitwise, on Black Friday this year the website that saw the biggest increase in traffic was the Apple Store at 99 percent growth.
With its own workers standing up against poverty wages and exploitation, Walmart is siccing the cops on past and present employees, allegedly on false pretenses.
As Black Friday approached, the honchos at Walmart, the largest employer in the United States, found themselves at a loss to respond to a nationwide rebellion within the ranks of their near-captive workers — people who work for an average wage of $8.81 per hour , according to The National Memo, often in areas where Walmart is the only game in town for a job if you don’t have a college degree (or even if you do). And so it seems they started making stuff up, and pulling strings — in at least two locations — to get local police to do their bidding.
Across the country this Friday, Walmart workers and their supporters are conducting rallies and protests at or near Walmart stores, as shoppers line up in the pre-dawn hours for a crack at the super-bargains that are the retailer’s Black Friday hallmark.
For more than six months, two groups linked to the United Food & Commercial Workers union have been working on behalf of Walmart employees, demanding a living wage, a humane level of benefits, reasonable hours and an end to the company’s legendary retaliation against workers who seek to unionize and put an end to its abusive labor practices , including wage theft. Walmart employees number 1.4 million, and, as Catherine Ruetschlin of Demos reports, it is the country’s largest single employer of African Americans.
The groups, OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart , are relying largely on social media campaigns to organize what are expected to be thousands of Walmart workers walking off the job today. Aiding in the organizing are former Walmart employees, such as Alex Rivera, who claims he was fired by Walmart in Orlando this September for joining the OUR Walmart campaign, according to a report by The Nation ‘s Josh Eidelson.
On Wednesday, Rivera was handcuffed by Orlando police — in front of his former colleagues — when he entered the store in which he was formerly employed, because, Eidelson writes, Walmart managers appear to have falsely told police that the store had a ‘no tresspassing’ order against the former Walmart ‘associate,’ as the mega-retailer calls its employees.
Shoppers turned out in droves at malls and big-box stores around the country, taking advantage of Black Friday deals as retailers opened their doors earlier than ever on Thanksgiving.
Toys R Us, Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) and Sears (SHLD, Fortune 500) got a head start on the big shopping weekend by opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. That’s even earlier than last year, when the toy retailer got a 9 p.m. start and Wal-Mart , the world’s largest retailer, opened at 10 p.m.
The crowd at the Toys R Us in New York’s Times Square started gathering about four hours ahead of the open, and was larger than it was last year, said CEO Jerry Storch.
“Our customers love the earlier opening,” said Storch. “The atmosphere is celebratory and the crowds have been happy and excited to start their holiday shopping.”
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