By Chris Yow
TRUSSVILLE — Black Friday shoppers can sometimes be hasty and even downright mean, but local retailers are hoping to curb those issues with the help of law enforcement and policies designed to create smaller lines near big-ticket items.
This year, Walmart stores will continue their 1-hour guarantee for several items as well as use wristbands to allow customers to reserve items and shop elsewhere. Walmart will have five items on the 1-hour guarantee and many others will have wristbands.
Walmart spokesman Kory Lunberg said their stores have plans in place to keep shoppers from rushing around their stores.
“Anyone in the store and in line between 6 and 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving, they are guaranteed to get (a 1-hour guarantee) item, so I think that helps give them some peace of mind,” he said.
“With some of the other big-ticket items, we have wristbands. We have the same number of wristbands as we do products in the store. It helps people know what they can get and they can shop elsewhere.”
Lunberg also said each of their stores has a safety plan specific to the store.
“Every store has a unique safety plan that is designed specifically for that store. How you get folks into the store, through the store and out of the store,” he said. “One thing that helps set Walmart apart from other retailers is we’re open 24 hours a day. So, customers can come into the store, get acclimated to the where they want to go with where the products are that they can line up for instead of lining up outside and opening the doors.”
Contrary to Walmart, Trussville’s Target location will be closed until 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, but will open and remain open until 11 p.m. on Friday night.
Trussville Store Manager Jeremy Walker said his team preps for this day well in advance.
“We plan about three months before the event for how we will train employees in a safe and endurable environment for everybody to shop. We put in the time to make sure we have all we need, whether it’s barricades or supplies and train our team members on their specific roles,” he said.
Once the day arrives, his team is properly trained, law enforcement is made aware of the rules and Walker then communicates with guests on how they are to proceed through the store.
“I will be here three hours before the store opens and I will talk with every person in line. I have a very specific conversation on our expectations,” Walker said. “I’ve covered expectations with law enforcement officers in the building, no pushing and no running, to make sure everybody in the line understands.”
Like Walmart, Target guests can also pre-plan by checking out the store layout. Although Target is closed beforehand, the store’s mobile app will allow guests to log in and see the store’s layout.
“The app is really helpful in guiding customers to where they want to shop,” Walker said.
A number of retailers in the area will have similar protocols for the event, and many local shops will also be open for shopping on Friday.