Black Friday Incidents and Injuries

November 23, 2015

The day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Some stores open before dawn, welcoming throngs of people who have been waiting outside for hours. For many people, hitting the post-Thanksgiving sales with family and friends is a holiday tradition. But in recent years, that tradition has been marred by aggressive, violent, and out-of-control shoppers.

Black Friday Mayhem

Many bystanders have captured footage of in-store altercations on their cell phones. Google “Black Friday fights” and you’ll find many clips of shoppers at their worst – brawling over a Barbie doll, wrestling over a television, and attacking other shoppers, all in the name of saving a few dollars.

In 2013, police in New Jersey had to pepper-spray a man who had been arguing with a manager over a television and then attacked a police officer as he was being escorted from the store. In the same store, a woman spit on another woman’s child. Meanwhile, inside the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, a fight erupted, and a bystander caught video of a woman using a stun gun on another woman.

So why are these fights happening? It could be due in part to a primal reaction to scarcity.

The Science of Scarcity

If you’ve ever seen two dogs quarrel over a toy or a scrap of food, you’ve seen the science of scarcity at work. It’s that primal instinct that occurs in humans and animals when something valuable seems to be running out – we try to get as much of it as we can for ourselves, regardless of whether we need it.

Many retailers create a sense of scarcity on Black Friday. They advertise massive discounts on certain products, but then stock only a few of those products in-store. People who show up expecting to save hundreds of dollars on a flat-screen TV may be disappointed when they find the item they came to buy is already gone. And those who show up early may be moved to violence, as they compete with other shoppers over a limited inventory.

The truth is, Black Friday “deals” may not be as good as people think they are. One analysis of sales prices found some stores offered better sales at other times of the year, and discounts on certain items – like winter clothing and generic toys – were often much greater in the final weeks of the year. Also, sometimes retailers offer deep discounts on electronics if those products are poorly made – it’s a good way for stores to unload sub-par inventory.

Many retailers offer sales prices online that are as good as if not better than Black Friday deals. And those sales happen throughout the year. With some advance planning, consumers could conceivably do their holiday shopping incrementally online, from the safety and comfort of their home.


If you have any questions about this topic or have suffered an injury while shopping, the Top-rated personal injury attorney at Wapner Newman can help. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-529-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form.