In case you were feeling all warm and fuzzy about humanity as the holiday season approaches, let me remind you that people are terrible. Are you debating whether or not to venture out for Black Friday sales? History tells us that you should do so at your own risk.
Even if they're incredibly crowded, stores aren't always chaotic on the day after Thanksgiving. Then again, some doorbuster deals inevitably spark scenes of madness. It seems like every year there are stories about stampedes or brawls breaking out as deal-hungry shoppers scramble to score the limited quantities of the season's big-ticket items.
You don't have to face consumerism at its worst just to save money. There are plenty of ways to make holiday shopping affordable, and you can find plenty of great deals online. Before you go out, it may help to set a budget so you don't get caught up in the frenzy and end up spending more than you should. Maxing out your credit cards (or even just spending more than 30 percent of your limit) can make a dent in your credit score.
To make sure you know what you might be getting into when you line up outside a store hours before it opens, we compiled some of the most absurd incidents from past Black Fridays. These are among some of the worst stories to come from Black Friday in recent years, but there's no shortage of YouTube compilations and Vines documenting the brawls and stampedes that happen all over the country each Black Friday.
In 2011, a woman used pepper spray "to gain preferred access to a variety of locations" in a Los Angeles Walmart, the L.A. Times reported. A captain from the fire department described it as "competitive shopping." The woman injured 20 people, including children. That year, the deals included $5 Bratz dolls, $10 Wii video games and $29 tricycles, according to the Times report.
A man allegedly stabbed a former Marine who was collecting toy donations outside of a Best Buy on Black Friday in 2010 in Augusta, Ga., the Augusta Chronicle reported. Security camera footage showed Tracey Antonio Attaway stuffing a laptop computer down his pants during the Black Friday sale and trying to leave with it, according to prosecutors. Former Marines collecting donations for Toys for Tots outside the store attempted to subdue Attaway, and in the process, Attaway allegedly stabbed one of them in the back. The victim recovered.
An off-duty police officer used pepper spray on shoppers during a 2011 Black Friday sale at a Walmart in Kinston, N.C., WITN reported. The store hired off-duty officers for extra security, and one of the officers dispensed pepper spray into a crowd of people around a display of cellphones marked down from $200 to $35. About 20 people, including children, were reportedly injured.