Wal-Mart takes steps to ease Black Friday frenzy
(AP) - Wal-Mart Stores said Wednesday it willkeep its stores open 24 hours and take new crowd-control measuresThanksgiving weekend after a temporary employee was trampled todeath in a Black Friday rush last year.
The world's largest retailer says day-after-Thanksgiving saleswill begin at 5 a.m. Nov. 27, but most U.S. stores will be open 24hours to prevent a mad dash. The announcement doesn't affect mostof Wal-Mart's Supercenters, which are already open 24 hours.
Federal safety regulators cited Wal-Mart for inadequate crowdmanagement after the Nov. 28, 2008, death of a temporary employeeat a Long Island, N.Y., store. A crowd of shoppers broke down thestore's doors, trapping employee Jdimytai Damour, who died ofasphyxiation.
Wal-Mart was required to create improved crowd management plansfor all its 92 New York stores as part of a deal with prosecutorsthat avoided criminal charges in the trampling death.
It also was required to set up a $400,000 victims' compensationfund, and give $1.5 million to social services programs andnonprofit groups. The agreement included no admission of guilt byWal-Mart.
Wal-Mart said in a statement that it consulted with safetyexperts in the sports and entertainment industries to developstore-specific plans for all U.S. locations. Each plan looked athow customers approach and enter the store, how they check out andleave, as well as how customers move around the store and near thebiggest bargains, Wal-Mart said.
A spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer didn'timmediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
Shoppers around the country line up early outside stores on theday after Thanksgiving in the annual bargain-hunting ritual knownas Black Friday. It got that name because it traditionally wasconsidered the day stores broke into profitability for the fullyear.