BARBARA SHELLY

Black Friday is a cringe-worthy spectacle

Updated: 2013-11-30T23:37:16Z

By BARBARA SHELLY

The Kansas City Star

I have seen and heard a lot of excuses for the behavior of over-the-top Black Friday shoppers.

Show some compassion, we are told. Don’t be judgmental. These are people who can’t afford a flat-screen TV at normal prices, so it’s only natural that they would want to grab one of the “doorbuster” specials. Walk a mile in their shoes.

Right. Got it. But I still think Black Friday (or Gray Friday, as some people are calling it, since some of the stores are opening on Thursday now) is an embarrassing spectacle.

To bolster my argument, I present this YouTube video, apparently of a fight this morning at a so-far unidentified WalMart. In fact, here, from Gawker.com, is a compilation of Black Friday fight videos.

In other Black Friday reports, two shoppers fought with a gun and a knife over a parking space at a WalMart in Virginia. A police officer in Rialto, Calif., broke his hand and finger while breaking up a fight in a WalMart parking lot.

I’m pretty sure the citizens involved in these incidents didn’t factor in the cost of paying bond when they went bargain shopping.

During a conference call with reporters, WalMart CEO Bill Simon presented the comforting information that incidents appear to be down this year from other years.

“Any time you get more than 22 million people together you’re going to have some behavior you’re not proud of,” Simon said.

Not that all 22 million people are busting down the same door, but you get the point.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has a post that tells us what we should have known, or suspected, all along: A lot of these Black Friday “bargains” are actually discounts on items that were deliberately marked up to begin with.

So, personally, I would rather be at work (which I am) than do combat with the other Black Friday shoppers. And I cringe when I see the news reports of people rushing into the stores screaming, even without a fight in progress.

But perhaps I’m being unduly sensitive. Because, apparently, the Black Friday phenomenon may be spreading overseas. There’s even a report of a woman who suffered a broken wrist during a shopping melee in Belfast.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to bshelly@kcstar.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/bshelly.

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