Each year we wake up earlier and earlier on Black Friday (or stay up later and later on Thanksgiving, depending on how you look at it) to get the best deals on our holiday gifts. This hot trend of being the first store to open, or even being open in the evening on Thanksgiving is causing retailers and law enforcement alike some serious public safety headaches. Earlier we discussed how this tradition of waking up before dawn on Black Friday has changed over the last few years, leading to more and more stories of people being injured in mobs, being threatened and sometimes even purposely harmed by other shoppers. Stores, law enforcement offices, and the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) all are starting to create new rules for Black Friday Crowd Management.
The most recent legislative effort to protect shoppers on Black Friday has been made by the town of Swansea, MA. Swansea officials are proposing a special bylaw that would require any retailer that is open on Black Friday between midnight and 4 A.M. to submit safety plans at least 60 days prior to Black Friday. Retailers would also need to pay for a police detail at least 15 days prior to Black Friday. In addition, a public safety review would be conducted by the police department that would include anticipated customer volume and traffic to determine the appropriate number of police officers on the scene. Swansea Police Chief George Arruda has asked the Board of Selectman to place this proposed bylaw on the schedule for the October 29th town meeting.