Practice shopping safety

Great deals and impulse buying: They’re both a big part of Black Friday.

But what also should be at the forefront of this day is safety — safety on the highways while traveling to and from stores, or between stores, and safety amid the frenzied crowds trying to scoop up the best bargains.

The best advice is to avoid risky actions or attitudes that could end up tarnishing or destroying the joys and anticipation of the holidays ahead.

Failure to get to a particular store for that “perfect gift” before it’s sold out isn’t the proverbial end of the world. That same item days later might cost a few dollars more than the Black Friday bargain price, but avoiding injury or worse is more of a savings in the long run.

Additionally, injuring another person or causing anger or hurt feelings are not things that anyone should be guilty of having “achieved” on Black Friday – or any of the other busy shopping days leading up to Christmas.

Black Friday is a challenging day but, in the end, it’s shopping, and it should not be steeped in regret.

What’s most important is that everyone gets home safely and uninjured. Commendably, merchants have implemented Black Friday procedures that have erased some of the stress and perilous conditions experienced in the past.

Writings referring to this day have expressed the belief that the term “Black Friday” in the context of shopping originated about 1961 in Philadelphia to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.

Those writings also indicate that a popular explanation for use of the term came to be that this day represents the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, going from being “in the red” to being “in the black.”

As the term “Black Friday” became more and more ingrained in referring to the day after Thanksgiving, merchants began implementing earlier store openings, super bargains and other specials to lure shoppers.

Unfortunately, those business decisions sometimes produced unwanted results — the kind of results from which Blair County hopefully will again steer clear, today and during the shopping days ahead.

It’s been reported that since 2006, at least 10 deaths have occurred and more than 100 people have been injured as a result of Black Friday violence in the United States.

There have been shootings related to parking-space disputes, use of pepper spray by a shopper against others to gain quicker access to a sought-after item, and shopper stampedes that have resulted in injuries or death — in at least one instance, to a store employee.

During a shopper stampede in West Virginia on Black Friday seven years ago, a 61-year-old pharmacist collapsed and was left for dead by shoppers while being trampled and passed by; he died soon afterward.

There are people who say they live for the Black Friday experience; most of them are sensible in how they approach the day and conduct themselves.

But shoppers everywhere need to be alert regarding individuals within whom safe conduct is not necessarily a priority.

Yes, seek out the great bargains, but do so safely.