Friday, November 28, 2008

A Black Black Friday

There is absolutely no excuse for this, and yet one man lost his life and a pregnant woman had a miscarriage when a WalMart in Valley Stream, New York opened its doors for a doorbusters sale this morning.
A Wal-Mart worker was killed Friday after an ``out of control'' throng of shoppers eager for post-Thanksgiving bargains broke down the doors at a suburban store and knocked him to the ground, police said.

At least four other people, including a woman eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries, and the store in Valley Stream on Long Island was closed for several hours.

It reopened shortly after 1 p.m. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a ``tragic situation'' and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store.

``The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority,'' said Wal-Mart representative Dan Fogleman.

``Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this difficult time. At this point, facts are still being assembled and we are working closely with the Nassau County Police as they investigate what occurred.''
The man, a sales clerk, was trampled to death by hundreds of shoppers looking to save a few bucks on their holiday shopping. The woman was also injured in the mass of people surging into the store.

That's absolute insanity, and it really should raise questions about how and why people are going holiday shopping in the first place. Look, I love a sale as much as the next person, but I'm certainly not going to risk my life for it, and neither should anyone else. It certainly is a reason to do your shopping online.

In fact, both Mrs. Lawhawk and I have done most of our holiday shopping online and both of us have nearly finished our lists, but I always check out the stores in person to see if there's anything else I missed and to get ideas. This year, I checked out Century21 and Filene's Basement at Bergen Town Center, Target in Hackensack, and the Paramus Park mall. Century21 and Filene's Basement weren't exactly packed with crowds, and you could actually walk through the aisles fairly comfortably. People were buying items, but I was there after the initial doorbusters sale ended around noon.

Paramus Park was also busy, but not inordinately so. I was able to get in and out of the malls and their parking lots fairly easily. Sales were good, but nothing really blew my socks off as a must buy item.

Target, on the other hand was quite busy but even there I was able to make my way through the Hackensack store. Many of the low priced DVDs were already sold out and the shelves were not restocked as of early afternoon, which could be a sign that the store was not holding as much inventory as in past years, when DVDs for under $5 could be found readily even into the late afternoon.

In other words, I think that there's serious belt-tightening ongoing, and that means that retailers are going to be in for a very rough season.

While I didn't shop there, there were lines outside Sixth Avenue Electronics all day long, and the line started forming at their store on Route 4 at Midnight. I guess someone thought that they really had good deals.

Of course, that was not the only store where people lined up.

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