Walmart Wants To Put An End To #WalmartFights With New Black Friday Strategy

Will people chill out now that the sales last over a few days?

Walmart has launched a “New Black Friday” with the mission of ending the incidents of over-the-top and violent shopping behavior on that most important of shopping days.

Customers have proven that if retailers are willing to open for business with doorbuster deals on Black Friday (or Thanksgiving Day, at this point), they will show up to scramble for a bargain. Retailers have developed a knack for driving sales during those wee shopping hours. They’re not so good at keeping the peace.

Black Friday fighting in the aisles of Walmart has become just as much of a tradition as anything else related to to the day. So much so that the hashtag #WalmartFights has spawned. NBC News even had a wrap up of that madness last year, noting that social media broadcasts and amplifies incidents of bad behavior. (And here’s our take, with more video.)

“The impression that each and every store contained some sort of Black Friday melee ran contrary to the ‘record drop’ in this year’s reported Black Friday “incidents,”— less than 10 kerfuffles required police intervention,” a Walmart spokesperson, Brooke Buchanan told NBC last December.

Let’s try and get it down to zero folks.

By spreading the deals out over a few days, the company hopes to calm anxious shoppers suffering from a bad case of FOMO. The news release breaks it all down: Starting on Thanksgiving, shoppers can snap up a ton of electronics deals and enjoy sales in other categories; the electronics deals continue the following morning along with Christmas trees and other items; then there will be online deals throughout the weekend, leading straight into Cyber Monday.

The company says 22 million people shop at their stores on Thanksgiving Day. That number is breathtaking, and explains why stores insist on opening on Thanksgiving despite the yearly discussion about whether it commercializes the holiday (yes it does) and whether it’s fair to make staff leave their families to work (no it’s not). It also makes the Black Friday shopping day one that requires immense planning, crowd control, stellar internal communications, and huge feats of customer service.

“Black Friday is no longer about waking up at the crack of dawn to stand in long lines and hope for the best. At Walmart, it has become a family shopping tradition where everyone shops at some point throughout the weekend,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer at Walmart U.S. That’s a nice way of saying bring everybody so you buy more stuff, but leave the crazy at the dinner table at home.

With this, surely, the retailer hopes to rid itself of that pesky hashtag, which is just one more ding on the company’s reputation. Now about those wages.