Walmarts protests in 46 states don’t appear to be slowing Black Friday shoppers, who instead lauded an earlier start to holiday buying by promising to spend more this season.
Organizers estimate 1,000 demonstrations happened Nov. 22 and today as Walmart workers push for better working conditions and rail against store openings on Thanksgiving.
Mary Pat Tifft, a member of workers group OUR Walmart, led a protest in Kenosha, Wisc. She’s been working for the retail giant 24 years.
“Walmart has spent the last 50 years pushing its way on workers and communities,” she told The Guardian.
“In just one year, leaders of OUR Walmart and Warehouse Workers United have begun to prove that change is coming to the world’s largest employer.”
Walmart brass, however, disagreed and said there were no more disruptions this year than any other year.
“Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates,” he said in a prepared release.
“We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year.”
Walmart said it sold nearly 5,000 items per second during peak Black Friday shopping hours between 8 p.m. and midnight on Nov. 22.
Shoppers didn’t seem deterred by Walmart workers and their messages, Reuters reported.
Many said they appreciated stores that decided to open Thursday night instead of early Friday morning.
“I think it is better earlier. People are crazier later at midnight,” Renee Ruhl, 52, said outside Target in Orlando, Fla.
The most frenzied shoppers appeared in Moultrie, Ga., where dozens grappled over cellphones, The Associated Press reported.
The prepaid, unlimited plan deal caused an uproar, but nobody was hurt, store staff said.
Nobody was hurt, nobody got kicked out and store security handled the situation, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told the AP.
Video of the incident (below) was posted to YouTube.