Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, is known for its deep discounts, massive crowds, and the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season. For customers, it's an opportunity to snag great deals, but for retail employees, it can be a challenging experience.
We went on a public forum to collect real stories from retail employees about the craziness that happens when the doors open to many excited shoppers. In a thread, these workers shared their most horrifying Black Friday stories, showing us the chaos behind the store counters.
1. Terrifying Stampede
A user recounted a terrifying experience of a stampede breaking out as the doors opened. The rush of customers, desperate to grab the best deals, led to a chaotic scene where employees and shoppers were at risk. The whole situation was not only dangerous but also revealed how people can get selfish during sales, even hurting others just to grab cheap stuff.
Another user reported” I worked at Toys-R-Us when the original Furby came out. I walked in the back doors right before my shift, when doors were supposed to open. I had people follow me in and assault me trying to get a damn Furby. Then when doors finally did open, one parent pushed my coworker to the ground and jumped on top of a pile of people to get one from the display. She ended up kicking some poor schmuck in the head and grabbed a Furby and stuffed it down her shirt, and tried to casually walk out and steal it.”
2. Fights Over Merchandise
On Black Friday, when people want to get good deals, things can sometimes get out of control. Retail workers told stories about stopping customer fights over things they wanted to buy. Some of these fights got so bad that the police had to come to help. The anger and aggression over things to buy made a significant impact on these workers. It showed how far some people would go just to save some money.
A user said: ” I was a Gamestop Worker when the Wii came out. The second we unlocked the doors, shit was a riot. People were fighting one-another, swearing, crying, just about everything. People were so desperate, when people managed to get one, somebody would throw the other person to the ground and buy it.”
3. Unrealistic Expectations and Demands
A user spoke of the unrealistic expectations and demands placed upon them by customers. Some shoppers expected employees to honor expired promotions or demanded further discounts on heavily discounted items. These interactions often resulted in verbal abuse directed at the staff, adding to the already stressful environment.
A commentor said: “People are savages on Black Friday. But the worst are the people that don't like what the sales are… as if we expect to mark down the exact item they wanted. Sorry, but I don't give a flying f*** if the Bose QCs aren't on sale while the hot pink Beats are. Sales are to get you in the door, which is why I am glad my job has few actual sales.”
4. Inadequate Staffing
Many shoppers mentioned the issue of inadequate staffing, which made things even worse. When there weren't enough workers to help all the customers, things got chaotic. There were super long lines, unhappy customers, and insufficient help, making it a challenging and stressful time for many workers.
A user said: “I work in a grocery store. Our black friday consists of deciding who to send home because it's slow as f***.”
5. Unsanitary Situations
In the rush to grab the best deals, some shoppers needed to pay more attention to basic etiquette and hygiene. There were stories about kids left alone, trash on the floor, and dirty places like fitting rooms and bathrooms. Retail workers had to clean up and fix these problems, showing how hard their job is on the busiest shopping day of the year.
A user said: “I had someone ask me to use a trashbag to fish out shit out of the toilet instead of calling a plumber. I said, go ahead fire me. They found someone else to do it.”
6. Extended Hours and Exhaustion
On Black Friday, retail workers often have to work very long hours and even stay up all night to serve the huge crowds of shoppers. They don't get enough breaks, leading to physical tiredness and mental strain. This tough side of Black Friday is often overlooked, but it's a big problem for retail employees.
A user said: “I used to work at Best Buy. On black friday I worked a 12 hour shift at a register the whole day. 12 hours of constant repetition became a blur. When I got home and went to bed, I couldn't sleep because every time I fell asleep I would have a nightmare that was essentially me thinking “crap, I need to get back to my register” and then semi-consciously walking around my room trying to find it. I got maybe 3 hours of sleep after a 12 hour shift. It was awful.”
7. Theft and Security Concerns
Black Friday's hectic environment provides a ripe opportunity for shoplifters and other malfeasants. Retail workers say that theft goes way up on this day because there are not enough security guards. The workers also feel very stressed because they have to watch out for theft, handle the big crowds, and make sure they sell enough stuff. It's a very tough and anxious day for them.
A user said: “When I worked at Sam's Club, during the madness one black Friday morning, we caught a woman stuffing the inside of her pants with frozen lobster tail. She would unpackage them and throw the trash in a stack of tires that were on display”
8. Online vs. In-Store Sales Pressure
With the advent of online shopping and Cyber Monday deals, retail employees often face pressure from management to outperform online sales. They have to give special discounts only available in the store or make customers happy. This pressure to beat online stores can make the workplace feel tense as workers rush to sell more and get people to come into the store.
A user said: “My first experience with online sales during Cyber Monday deals was intense. It happened during a Cyber Monday rush, and I vowed to stick with it rather than work in an overcrowded retail store during Black Friday. The pressure of managing online orders and ensuring smooth website operations is its unique challenge, but it's a path I'd choose over the chaos of in-store sales any day.”
9. Technical Glitches
The overwhelming number of transactions on Black Friday can also lead to technical glitches at the checkout counters. Employees shared stories of point-of-sale systems crashing under the load, leading to long lines, frustrated customers, and manual processing of transactions. These technical issues can significantly hamper the shopping experience for customers and employees.
A user said: “I worked in a hospital gift shop and a man came in to buy some things for his newborn daughter. His credit card got declined so he went to the ATM, which charged a $3 fee. For some reason I had called my manager and had her on the phone when he came back. He asked if we could take 3 dollars off his total (I knew my manager would say no, but I asked to make it look good) When I told him my manager said no his reply was” you just lost a sale, my daughter was just born and you ruined it”
10. Lack of Gratitude
During the chaos, retail employees sometimes feel like they're treated poorly. Many talked about customers who were rude or unkind because they were in a hurry to get discounts and didn't show basic manners to the workers. Despite the harsh conditions, retail workers strive for professionalism, often with little customer appreciation.
A user reported: “I worked at walmart for 4 years and worked all Black Fridays. I've seen a woman hit another woman in the chest with those toddler car boxes you drive in. Woman who got hit was a week or 3 post op of open heart surgery. Lots of blood. Right In front of me. No idea what happened to the woman who hit her. I do think she got the toy car purchased it and left.”
11. Returns and Exchanges
The days following Black Friday are often filled with a massive number of returns and exchanges. This can be as challenging as the event itself. Customers who are unsatisfied with their purchases demand refunds or exchanges. This can be stressful for store employees, as they have to deal with unhappy customers while also handling their regular retail tasks.
A user said: “After going through the crazy Black Friday at my job, I can't believe what happened. Handling returns and exchanges was really tough. The store was full of unhappy customers, and trying to deal with all the people who wanted their money back or wanted to swap items felt like a never-ending struggle. This day made me realize how hard it can be to work in a store.”
12. Early Bird Crowds
Some stores start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving evening or at midnight. This attracts “early bird” crowds. Employees recounted the challenge of managing eager shoppers who line up hours before the store opens. They endure cold and sometimes harsh weather conditions. However, when the doors open, they often rush in like a stampede.
A user said: “I work at Petco, and we had a store meeting where, I swear to God, my GM was discussing Black Friday, and said “and last year we had five to seven people lined up at the door waiting to get in! So we have to be ready!”
Black Friday Nightmares
Retail employees on Reddit often share troubling stories of Black Friday, describing it as a chaotic and aggressive day. As the competition for the best deals escalates annually, these workers' stories highlight the toll of consumerism on people. While Black Friday shopping is exciting for some, it's crucial to recognize the hardworking individuals making it happen and treat them respectfully and kindly.