Wal-Mart Extends Black Friday Hours

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Wal-Mart’s (Stock Quote: WMT) Black Friday deals are so good, people would kill for them and, unfortunately, last year proved the point.

Thousands of overeager shoppers crowded outside a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, New York, before store hours and accidentally trampled a Wal-Mart employee to death when the doors finally opened.

Customers may be even more ravenous this year as Wal-Mart continues to roll out one crazy deal after another in order to lure cash strapped Americans to their storefront.

In order to avoid another catastrophe this year, Wal-Mart is making several changes to the way its stores operate over Thanksgiving weekend. Discount stores will open at 6am on Thanksgiving Day and stay open through the night and all through Black Friday. (Wal-Mart’s supercenters will keep their usual schedule for the holidays).

As for the famous Black Friday bargain items, these won’t be rolled out in the store until 5am, as usual. But the hope is that customers will be more orderly if they don’t have to wait in line outside. "(Shoppers) will be dispersed through a 200,000 square foot store as opposed to all being right by the front door, waiting to go in," according to a spokesman for the company.

Once customers enter the store, they will see changes, too.

According to the New York Times, “When the products go on sale Friday at 5 a.m., workers will supervise the lines, giving shoppers the merchandise in the order in which they joined the line — until the goods are out of stock.” One worry, of course, is that the chaos outside the store will be replaced with chaos inside the store as people rush to line up for newly placed items.

Wal-Mart is not the only store trying to take precautions this year. The retail federation recently released a set of guidelines to help retailers and their employees manage their crowds during the holidays. Some points mentioned include giving shoppers wrist bands or tickets, and placing barriers outside the store to help manage the flow of traffic.

 

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