Flashback

Black, black Friday

A death at Walmart: When shopping fervor goes too far

What happenedWhen a Walmart store on Long Island opened at 5 a.m. for its Black Friday sale, the ensuing stampede of shoppers crushed and killed an overnight stock clerk. Even as emergency crews attempted to save the clerk's life, shoppers rushed past them into the store. The police reported several other injuries, including a pregnant woman who was trampled, causing a miscarriage. "They're savages," said one witness. "It's sad. It's terrible." (New York Daily News)

What the commentators said"It sounds like an article from the Onion, but it's not," said Thomas Lifson in American Thinker. "I love a bargain, but no bargain is worth this carnage." This event will certainly lead to "strict crowd control measures" for super bargain sales, but shouldn't we know better? Can anyone enjoy their new flat-screen TV when someone died for it?

All the more reason to stay home on the first weekend of the holiday shopping season, said Kimberly Palmer in U.S. News & World Report online. "Retailers are doing everything they can to lure you into their stores," but you'll be happier if you skip the post-Thanksgiving mobs altogether. Stores will be crowded; you can find better deals online; if you buy nothing, you'll be encouraging giving back and sustainable living; and avoiding the stores gives you more time with your family—isn't that what the holidays are about?

This is certainly a gruesome example of American consumerism gone too far, said David Ellis in CNN Money online. Besides the death of the Walmart employee, there are many examples of the fever pitch of Black Friday hysteria. One family skipped Thanksgiving dinner in order to wait outside stores on Thursday night, in anticipation of Friday's sales. But the death in Long Island is certainly a "tragic turn" from the usual holiday shopping frenzy.

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