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Black Friday breakdown reveals 2012 opportunity

As retailers assess what worked and what didn’t in terms of Black Friday promotions and Thanksgiving weekend sales, overall there are a few things that stand out.

The early opening hours, at midnight for Target and many others, made it easier for more people to participate while unseasonably warm weather nationwide contributed to an unprecedented level of shopper traffic the National Retail Federation put just north of 80 million. Not surprisingly, the huge volume of people translated to record sales and the momentum carried over to Cyber Monday when a new online sales record also was set.

The other positive takeaway that didn’t get much attention is the fact that no one died or was seriously injured, and there were relatively few incidents of shoppers gone wild. Granted, those instances where shoppers did behave poorly quickly found there way on to YouTube and the footage is disturbing to watch. However, if you think about the mass of humanity that turns out for Black Friday and the competitive instincts that kick in when cash-strapped shoppers vie for limited quantities of discounted merchandise it is surprising there weren’t more incidents of quick-tempered shoppers pushing, shoving, getting knocked down, tearing apart displays and generally behaving in a manner you can only hope they regretted the next day.

Nevertheless, the onus is always going to be on the company to provide a safe environment in which customers can shop. That means thinking through every potential thing that could go wrong when formulating a Black Friday strategy, but even then it seems there will always be some shoppers whose behavior defies logic and they will be the one who wind up on YouTube.