You may recall that last year, a man named Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death in the crush of a Walmart crowd eager to score Black Friday deals. This year, Walmart is taking steps to prevent another tragic incident.
In fact, they went so far as to call in the same crowd control experts that help to keep things under control at major events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Each store will have it's own gameplan, but the vast majority of locations (not just SuperCenters) will be open for 24-hours staring on Thanksgiving morning and ending on Friday evening. That way, Walmart hopes to prevent mammoth crowds from gathering outside the store waiting for the doors to open. They are also putting many of the most popular items behind displays, where employees will supervise lines and hand out the products to customers in an orderly fashion. Additional workers will be stationed outside the store to help direct foot traffic.
Because of incidents like the one at Walmart, the National Retail Federation has, for the first time, put together a list of guidelines aimed at crowd control in stores. Of course, even with all these precautions, I fear that this year will bring more horror stories about deadly violence erupting between crazed bargain hunters. [NYT]