Black Friday turned truly dark when a shoplifting scheme at a Kohl’s Department Store resulted in a shooting outside Chicago. Police were called to the Kohl’s in Romeoville this Black Friday to address reports of a man stealing clothing from the store. When they arrived, the suspect attempted to flee and was followed by an officer. The officer found himself partially caught in the suspect’s car door and was dragged several feet. A second officer ordered the driver to stop multiple times and when the driver refused, the officer shot, striking him in the shoulder. Both the driver and the officer were hospitalized but are expected to recover. A total of three suspects were arrested and charged.
While some Black Friday shoppers were stunned to witness this shoplifting scheme resulting in a shooting in the normally quiet town of Romeoville, many other shoppers simply continued on with their Black Friday bargain hunting inside the store despite it being marked as a crime scene. Several shoppers were also witnessed to be taking photographs of the area, including of another vehicle at the scene that had bullet holes in its windows.
Black Friday is widely considered the largest shopping day in the country and elsewhere crowds of shoppers resulted in mayhem as well. Retail giant Wal-Mart offered many stunning Black Friday deals for shoppers prepared to make their way out after their Thanksgiving meals. While Wal-Mart did make efforts to control the chaos, all did not go smoothly. Twitter, Youtube and other social media outlets were abuzz with reports of Black Friday fights breaking out around the country including in cities like Philadelphia where an ambulance was reportedly called to the scene. The social media hashtags #brawlmart and #WalMartfights were even coined to help users document this behavior.
Black Friday madness is nothing unique to this shopping season. Many will recall past reports of tramplings as shoppers rushed stores to claim their bargains in years past, including the deadly trampling of an employee at a Wal-Mart in 2008.
In addition to these disasters, which often result in criticism of the Black Friday bargain offering model that so many stores employ, retailers fell under fire this year for extending their shopping hours into Thanksgiving Day, which is now being deemed “Gray Thursday.” Kmart faced special criticism when it announced that it would be open for 41 hours straight beginning on Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m. Other big box stores such as ToysRUs, Target and BestBuy also had aim taken at them for extending their Thanksgiving Day hours. Groups citing the rights of retail workers to spend the day with their families were particularly vocal in the press.
Despite the negative reactions to some policies though, businesses are expecting a nearly four percent increase in Black Friday sales over last year this season and Black Friday has continued to be the most successful shopping day of the year for retailers. Sales are expected to be in excess of eleven billion dollars this year on Black Friday alone, with additional billions in sales on the newly emerging “Gray Thursday.” It would appear that not even a Black Friday shooting in response to shoplifting can keep shoppers from the stores.
By Michele Wessel