After watching footage on the news last night showing people fighting, pushing and yelling at each other over products, I felt sick. Sick at how people could behave like that and how it was able to happen.
(Images courtesy of the bbc.co.uk)
People were acting like complete thugs. It was like a mob mentality, completely barbaric. Elderly people on mobility scooters were pushed to the ground and trampled on, one woman broke her wrist in the crowd, and 200 people refused to leave a store, despite being told that the stock had all gone. What is wrong with people?!?!
However, although those customers should be very ashamed of themselves, retailers must take also take responsibility for this mess. They hyped up Black Friday like it was this miracle day where everything would cost next to nothing. In realty, I didn't see that many great deals, and the ones that were good were snapped up as soon as they went live. Retailers built people up into a kind of frenzy, which could be seen by them charging through the shop doors at 1 minute past midnight. The news interviewed some of them when they were waiting outside before the store opened and a lot of them didn't even know what they wanted, they'd just been told there would be some amazing deals.
Ironically, "Black Friday" wasn't even just one day. Most stores started their Black Friday deals on Thursday (House of Fraser even started theirs on Wednesday) and the majority go on until Monday/Tuesday. So all this craziness on the Friday just seems like madness.
There's also the well documented lack of security that retailers put on in their stores, despite having pumped up customers about this day all week. The police had to be called in to lots of stores, as well as ambulances, to manage the chaos. It is therefore the tax payer that ultimately funded the attempts to get control and order back into the stores, not the retailers themselves, who just made a massive profit. They should have used that predicted profit to pay more security guards and staff members to be working so that the crowds could have been properly managed.
Also, a lot of stores hyped up all the crazy discounts but only actually had a very limited amount of products in their stores. This resulted in the fighting and thuggish behaviour that we saw on the news, with customers desperately trying to get their hands on anything they could. Again, what were retailers thinking?!
I used to work as a sales assistant and seeing those images made me grateful that I'm not doing so anymore. I really felt for all the staff members in the stores. What a horrible day for them, and the things they had to deal with were way above their pay grade. The retailers have a duty of care to their staff that they just disregarded yesterday. For instance, one man was arrested after threatening to "smash a staff members face in". Lovely.
Yet, not all retailers managed it poorly, proving that the event could be done successfully and without any injuries. River Island, for example, had their Black Friday event scheduled as 11-3pm on their website and it was 20% off full priced items with a given discount code. It was online only, preventing the crazy store scrums, and it successfully built up the hype and added excitement of it only being a limited amount of time. Yes, the site was a little slow but it still worked fine, and it's a damn sight better experience than being elbowed in the ribs or wrestled to the ground in a store. This begs the question, should Black Friday just be online only to prevent such scenes and injuries?
I'm all for Black Friday as a concept. I love a good discount as much as the next person, but it needs to be better managed by retailers. I was planning on having a look online at the deals when I got in last night, but after seeing the news I was so angry that I decided to boycott it and refused to shop out of principle. That's quite a big deal for me as I love shopping! But, the behaviour seen yesterday was simply disgusting and unacceptable, and is a result of the media frenzy that has built up this week. One solution is to make it online only. I don't know, but for next year, if retailers are having it in-store again, then something seriously needs to be done to manage it properly.
What do you think? What were your experiences of Black Friday?
Was anyone working on the shop floor?