Wal-Mart to keep stores open to ease Black Friday
By JILL ZEMAN BLEED
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 11, 2009; 6:22 PM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores said Wednesday it will keep its stores open 24 hours and take new crowd-control measures Thanksgiving weekend after a temporary employee was trampled to death in a Black Friday rush last year.
The world's largest retailer says day-after-Thanksgiving sales will begin at 5 a.m. Nov. 27, but most U.S. stores will be open 24 hours to prevent a mad dash. The announcement doesn't affect most of Wal-Mart's Supercenters, which are already open 24 hours. Spokesman David Tovar said the change affects about 800 stores that aren't currently open round-the-clock.
Wal-Mart was required to create improved crowd management plans for all its 92 New York stores as part of a deal with prosecutors that avoided criminal charges in the trampling death.
It also was required to set up a $400,000 victims' compensation fund, and give $1.5 million to social services programs and nonprofit groups. The agreement included no admission of guilt by Wal-Mart.
As part of the settlement, Wal-Mart consulted with safety experts who've worked with the Super Bowl, Olympics, major concerts and national political conventions to come up with safety plans for each of its stores. Crowd-management staff should make sure people are orderly as they enter the store, while maps may be provided with locations of Black Friday deals, according to the safety recommendations