Friday, November 23, 2012

Something black

“Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is kicking off its Black Friday deals earlier than ever, as more stores open their doors for holiday deals even before shoppers have polished off their turkey dinners.”

From the same Los Angeles Times article earlier this month regarding Wal-Mart stores opening at 8 p.m on Thanksgiving with the guarantee that items, purchased at sale price, will be shipped to customers if supplies run out: “Last year, a woman in Porter Ranch pepper sprayed fellow customers, and a 2008 stampede in Long Island killed one worker... ‘If they get the word out that if a store runs out, people shouldn’t panic and they can still get the deal, that will help with the crowds,’ said Ron Friedman, a retail expert at accounting and advisory firm Marcum in Los Angeles. ‘That is a smart move to prevent what happened...which really gave Wal-Mart a black eye.’”

Then there was this from a Times story earlier this week about how “picking a smart strategy - and the right Black Friday hours - is crucial” for small, independent stores as “goliath retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Toys R Us Inc. and Target Corp. advertise deals that launch as early as 8 p.m on Thanksgiving”: “Anton at Body Basics has dreamed up a ‘flash sale’ plan for Black Friday involving back-to-back 10-minute discounts on select items. Sales associates will walk through the store toting cardboard signs stating, for example, that between 1 and 1:10 a.m, Hello Kitty pajamas are 30% off... Once the 10 minutes are over, clerks will start another quicky sale on, say, cotton T-shirts or slippers. ‘It’s to get people excited about shopping,’ Anton said.“

In the paper yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, there was this in a front-page article about the Los Angeles Police Department preparing for Black Friday crowds, noting that Chief Charlie Beck says, “We are not in the optimism business”: “The LAPD has talked to other retailers about creating ‘time-specific entry passes’ that would stagger the number of shoppers who are inside the store at any given time. In a flier the department is handing out to store managers, officials note that ‘this process has been very successful at many of the major theme parks...’ The LAPD has also suggested that retailers avoid stacking sales items on pallets ‘to mitigate crowd aggression.’”

‘Nuff said, as my friend Chris would say. Except that I’ve also read in the last couple weeks that there’s a protest, as in a strike and boycott, afoot against Black Friday so that both store workers and shoppers can enjoy a holiday on Thanksgiving at least. How about stores being closed on Friday, in addition to Thanksgiving, to prepare for “Black Saturday” (not to mention “Black Sabbath”)?

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