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Feds to retailers: control the crowds on Black Friday

Federal officials are urging the nation’s retailers to control crowds during this year’s Black Friday sales.  

Those crowds could reach record numbers.

Retailers are aggressively advertising Black Friday specials in light of low expectations for holiday sales this year.  Some stores will open as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.   

David Michaels is an Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.   He says by now, most retailers should know better than to let Black Friday shoppers mass at the front door, with no security, barricades or rope lines in place. 

"We know that’s a recipe for disaster.  We’ve seen too much chaos, too many people injured."

In 2008, a Walmart employee was trampled to death by an out-of-control Black Friday crowd, which broke down the doors of the store minutes before it was scheduled to open.

Michaels says Walmart instituted a successful crowd control program in the wake of the tragedy.

The National Retail Federation estimates as many as 152 million people may hit the stores in the three days after Thanksgiving . 

Michigan retailers think their overall holiday sales will be up about 6% from last year. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.