The tragic death of a Wal-Mart employee in New York last Friday should serve as a call to evaluate how retailers use early morning "doorbusters" on Black Friday. These attractive early morning specials are intended to generate store traffic. Unfortunately, high demand for certain items creates a situation where some people become so obsessed with getting an item they seem to lose their senses. How else can you explain the scene at the Wal-Mart on Long Island where a crowd estimated at 2,000 people took the term "doorbusters" far too literally?
The weekend after Thanksgiving is crucial to retailers in terms of their success for the Christmas season and beyond. But, as shopping has been made more convenient with stores open 24/7 in some cases and always open 24/7 online, the need to orchestrate a customer mob scene is unnecessary. It is one thing for retailers to call on workers to open stores at 3:00 and 4:00 AM, it is quite another matter to put their safety at risk by creating a frenzy for a small number of products. Rather than straining their employees' energy levels and customers' patience levels with doorbuster promotions, retailers should explore ways to generate more interest and store traffic throughout the entire Christmas shopping season.
Link: Ad Age - "Lawsuit: Marketing Blamed in Wal-Mart Trampling Death"