No serious Black Friday incidents in L.A. -- so far
Despite the usual stress and anxiety that crowding into shopping centers on Black Friday provokes, authorities have reported few serious incidents in Los Angeles.
At an Urban Outfitters store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, customers smashed through a tall glass door after midnight Friday, injuring about five people but none seriously, said Sgt. Marty Fine of the Santa Monica Police Department.
The Los Angeles Police Department has established a strong presence at shopping centers throughout the city, hoping to discourage some of the bad behavior that has given Black Friday a black eye.
“It’s going good. Nothing has really been reported,” said LAPD Officer Bruce Borihanh. “It’s been very good. We have a huge presence, especially in the Valley.”
Last year, a woman sent a shoppers scurrying after she unleashed pepper spray at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart.
About two dozen people were injured in the stampede, which happened as the woman and other customers made a mad dash to get discounted video games.
The incident, which garnered nationwide attention, was a major reason the LAPD decided to work closely with retailers to make sure Black Fridays didn’t get out of control.
Experts say the peak shopping season brings out the worst in some people, especially because of the crowded conditions.
“Individuals in the crowd are less likely to take responsibility for action or inaction when others are present,” said David Forbes, chief executive of Forbes Consulting Group, a market research company. “The primary driver of crowd misbehavior, including violence, is the sense of scarcity that has been actively promoted by certain retailers. When retailers announce that they have a limited number of scarce or heavily discounted products that will be sold on a first come, first serve basis, this is a recipe for disaster.”
Several retailers, including Wal-Mart, have since made changes aimed at reducing nasty incidents, including passing out “vouchers” for scarce items.
Retailers said early openings on Thanksgiving seemed to pay off, with several chains in an optimistic mood after seeing bigger crowds than expected.
-- Hector Becerra
Photo: Shoppers rush through the door at a Best Buy store in Lakewood. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times