Black Friday is the one-day shopping extravaganza frugal shoppers look forward to all year. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, stores such as Walmart and Best Buy attract dedicated shoppers who are looking to score huge deals on holiday gifts before Christmas. And over the last decade, Black Friday shopping has brought out the worst in people. From violent outbursts to fights and stampedes that, in some cases, have caused injuries — or worse.
Here are the worst Black Friday sales nightmares that will make you want to stay home this Thanksgiving weekend.
It’s Raining Gift Cards
In 2006, a mall in Torrance, Calif., came up with a promotion to give away gift certificates to customers on Black Friday, according to Business Daily News. Management, however, dramatically underestimated the turnout — but that wasn’t the only mistake the promotion’s organizers made. Instead of simply handing out the 500 gift cards, the staff dropped them from the ceiling on the frenzied mass of 2,000 frantic shoppers below.
Not a good idea. The result? A stampede that left 10 people injured, including an elderly woman.
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Black Friday Zombie Apocalypse
When an Upland, Calif., Walmart decided to stay open all night in 2009, management probably thought they were going to reduce the chance of Black Friday chaos by eliminating long lines and a mad rush when the doors opened.
But when rowdy customers began fighting inside and tearing into shrink-wrapped merchandise intended to be opened at 5 a.m. the next day, the retailer decided to call the cops, kick everyone out and clean up before the 5 a.m. sale, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Irate customers outside then began banging on the glass — like zombies — and looking for ways inside. Some even sneaking in through the lawn and garden section.
Ready for War at Walmart
In 2010, police arrested a man at the Boynton Beach, Fla., Walmart after a Black Friday shopper alerted them that she thought the man had a gun, according to The Ledger. It turns out, the over-prepared bargain hunter did have a gun — a .40-caliber Glock handgun. He also had a 30-round magazine, a pepper grenade, two concealed knives and a whole bunch of prescription pills — but no prescription.
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Toys for Tots Stabbing
In 2010, a U.S. marine was stabbed on Black Friday when trying to apprehend a fleeing thief at a Best Buy, according to CBS News.
The shoplifter was caught on camera putting a laptop under his jacket at the Augusta, Ga., store. When confronted by Best Buy employees, the man pulled a knife and ran out the door. That’s when four marines, who were collecting toys outside for Toys for Tots, tried to stop the man and one of the marines got stabbed in the back.
Luckily, the shoplifter was arrested and the marine survived.
Violence R Us
In 2010, police arrested a 21-year-old shopper in Toys “R” Us in Madison, Wis., according to CNN. The woman reportedly attempted to cut in line. When confronted by angry shoppers who had patiently waited their turn, the woman threatened to get her gun and shoot them.
Police didn’t find a gun, but took the threat seriously enough to arrest her for disorderly conduct. In an interview with CNN, the suspect lamented that she was worried the toy she originally cut the line to get would be gone by the time she was released from jail. “I just wanted to get my daughter the toy she wanted for Christmas,” she said.
At a Walmart in Buckeye, Ariz., the night before Black Friday in 2011, a 54-year-old grandfather was carted off to jail. An off-duty officer who was helping out the retailer said the man shoved a video game under his shirt in an attempt to shoplift the item, according to Azcentral.com, so the officer apprehended him — forcibly.
The man’s wife, however, insisted that the ill-fated shopper put the game in his waistband so that he could pick up and protect his grandson from a mob of unruly shoppers. But police said other shoppers saw him try to steal the game and that he attempted to flee when police challenged him.
A video of the incident’s aftermath raised questions about the use of force by the police present. The “leg sweep” that took him down left the man bleeding and seemingly unconscious.
‘Competitive Shopping’ and Pepper Spray
Here’s another Black Friday nightmare that happened at Walmart in 2011, but this time in Porter Ranch, Calif. This was the site of a new form of Black Friday rage politely referred to as “competitive shopping” by a fire captain who spoke with the Los Angeles Times.
Twenty people, including children, suffered injuries when a woman unleashed pepper spray on the crowd. She used the weapon not to defend herself from an attacker, but to clear a path through the crowd toward door buster merchandise.
This caused shoppers to trample fallen merchandise as workers scrambled to get out of the way.
Parking Spot Shooting
On Black Friday in 2012, two people believed to have been arguing over a parking space were shot and injured, according to Fox News. In the parking lot of a Walmart in Tallahassee, Fla., two people were found shot and taken to a nearby hospital — though the wounds were said to not be life-threatening.
‘Self-Defense’ and Sucker Punches
During Black Friday sales in 2012, a man was reportedly punched in the face at a San Antonio Sears. His response was to pull out a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in “self-defense,” according to MySanAntonio.com.
Police took the man who pulled out the handgun into custody, but later said the man was within his rights when he displayed the weapon. The Sears manager even gave him a store voucher, shockingly.
The Flat-Screen TV Wave
Black Friday shoppers in 2014 literally threw themselves on top of flat-screen TVs at a Stafford, Texas, Walmart after waiting in line for a few hours, according to ABC 13 (KTRK-TV). “People were climbing over each other to get a TV,” said one witness. “It was crazy.”
The shoppers didn’t listen to the police officers’ orders to stop either — but no arrests were made that day.
So, before heading out to find the best Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving weekend, you might want to reconsider. If you really want to avoid the craziness, wait until Monday — and take advantage of some great Cyber Monday deals instead.
Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.