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Black Friday Injuries Across America

Black Friday

After Thanksgiving comes Black Friday. Then Small Business Saturday. And then follows Cyber Monday. Long gone is the post-Thanksgiving tradition of snoozing on the couch while a football game slogs on. The modern after-turkey tradition is focused on consumerism, and it has set off a kind of arms race among retailers – both the traditional brick-and-mortar stores we grew up with and the big-box stores and online retail leviathans. Besides the steady erosion of our good social graces, what harm could this increasing consumerism cause? The answer may lie in data about Black Friday shopping injuries.

From Sin City to Shoppers City?

At this point, we all know the trappings of Black Friday sales. Retailers small and large compete feverishly for consumer dollars that seek the best deals. Individual stores and sometimes even entire shopping centers or malls coordinate and execute elaborate plans to attract customers with one-day-only sales promotions and other incentives. Las Vegas, a city known for its flashy live-entertainment shows, world-class food, and plentiful shopping, has plenty of Black Friday deals to choose from each year. Some years, savvy shoppers have the opportunity to save up to 50 percent off the ticket price for popular shows and concerts. This year, many well-known retailers hosted their own Black Friday deals, including:

  • Walmart
  • Lowe’s
  • BetterWorld Books
  • Birthday in a Box
  • Bookbyte
  • Macy’s
  • Kohl’s
  • Boden
  • JC Penney
  • Overstock
  • Samsung [1]

The excitement of a hot deal can be outweighed by the risk of Black Friday shopping injuries. This year, tragedy struck at a mall in New York when a fight broke out suddenly among several men. A man named Kyree Traux was arrested last month on charges of assault, criminal possession of a weapon, and reckless endangerment. The suspect allegedly shot another man at the Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse, New York while shopping on Black Friday. The shooting took place at around 7 p.m. and caused a full lockdown at the shopping mall. Traux allegedly shot another man in the leg during a fight, then and then he drove a friend (who had been stabbed in the altercation) to the hospital.

As if the incident had not caused enough harm already, Traux’s vehicle struck a bus on the way to the hospital. In the aftermath of the crash paramedics arrived, and they transported Traux’s injured friend to the hospital; Traux was then promptly arrested. [2]

While the cause of the shooting remains unknown, and while the facts of this case may be extreme, this tragic incident illustrates how the heightened nerves that can arise during these shopping frenzies can result in Black Friday shopping injuries.

Black Friday at the Apple Store in New York

Stampedes of Many Forms

Black Friday shopping has become a social phenomenon because the promotions retailers unveil are often incredibly attractive. But when the hype and frenzy around a particular sales promotion reaches a critical level, the sheer number of people arriving to exploit it can become a danger in itself.

An iconic, though tragic, example of this is the story of a stampede at a Walmart store in 2013. Lured by an impossibly good deal on flat-screen TVs, a veritable mob of shoppers rushed the doors of the Walmart store. (Retailers often advertise their “door buster” promotions for the first customers to enter the store; in light of so many recent Black Friday shopping injuries, they might reconsider this turn of phrase.) A Walmart employee became caught in the crush of shoppers, and he died of his injuries as a result of the stampede. The same incident left four other people with injures, including a woman who lost her unborn child to a miscarriage. [3]

The stampede phenomenon is not unique to shopping. More than 20 people died at an electronic dance music festival in Duisburg, Germany in 2010. Festival-goers became caught in a quarter-mile-long tunnel that was the only ingress and egress point for the festival. When one of the acts fell behind schedule, orders for festival-goers to turn back conflicted with the desire of many festival-goers to reach the music venue. A stampede effect took place, and people caught in the crowd lost control of their own bodies. Some 500 people suffered injuries in addition to the 21 lives lost. [4] Last week marked 40 years since 11 people died while waiting to enter a concert for The Who in Cincinnati. [5]

Researchers have actually made progress with modeling the movements of stampeding people. If the density of a crowd reaches a high enough level, the collision of one person into another can cause one of those individuals (or sometimes both) to become suspended against others’ bodies in a way that they cease to have contact with the ground and thus control over their movements. This causes them to collide with others, potentially setting off a chain reaction that resembles falling dominoes or a wave. These effects are exacerbated when all (or a critical mass) of the crowd is attempting to reach a single area, as is often the case when Black Friday shopping injuries occur. [6]

It seems that this year’s Black Friday was largely unmarred by this kind of stampede activity, but we are not yet far enough removed from the frenzied shopping day to know whether there were unreported incidents of injuries. If you or a loved one were harmed in a Black Friday shopping injury in Las Vegas or elsewhere in the state or across the country, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for advice.

[1] https://blackfriday.com/stores/black-friday

[2] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Black-Friday-Shooting-Shutters-NY-Mall-1-Injured-Syracuse-Destiny-USA-565638422.html

[3] https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/5-worst-happened-black-friday-article-1.2445679

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Parade_disaster

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Who_concert_disaster

[6] https://www.inverse.com/article/24256-black-friday-human-stampede-collective-motion-physics-thanksgiving

[5] https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/5-worst-happened-black-friday-article-1.2445679

[6] https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/black-friday-study-shows-state-shoppers-violent-article-1.2444935

Image Credit: JoeInQueens via Wikipedia Commons

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