The Craze of Black Friday Shopping

Every year, thousands spend the final hours of Thanksgiving preparing for what some might call our holiday version of the Hunger Games. Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving, this year on November 29th. Shoppers gather outside their favorite stores – or rather, the stores they think they’ll get the best deals at – to try to snag the last Xbox or Apple product or that coat that they’ve had their eye on for weeks.

Black Friday has become controversial recently, with people creating anti-Black Friday Facebook groups and condemning those who participate in the, “absolute expression of…materialism replacing real human values,” as one of my survey participants stated. Others see Black Friday as a way to save money on holiday presents or even to have fun and spend time with their families.

After conducting a rather un-scientific survey of my Facebook friends, I have come to the following conclusions about Black Friday:

1. People think Black Friday is “crazy.”

Almost a quarter of my participants agreed that Black Friday is “too crazy.” Between waking up early (or not going to sleep at all if you’re that hard core), standing outside in the cold for hours, and then fighting strangers for the last Tonka Truck or whatever you’re shopping for, these people decided it’s not worth it. 89 million people participated last year – that’s 28% of all Americans, a.k.a. a heck of a lot of people.

2. The love of shopping is enough to motivate some people to brave Black Friday.

I love shopping as much or more than the next girl, but not enough to spend the night in some cold parking lot. But apparently, some of my participants (as well as millions of Americans) think differently. This fact is underlined by my data, which shows that most of my participants that will be shopping don’t even have a battle plan yet. These are the people who see the event as an experience rather than a mission. God bless them.

3. Target is the Prom Queen of Black Friday (at least among people I know).

Over a half of my participants who said they would be Black Friday shopping cited Target as their top choice for Black Friday shopping. Not surprising, considering Target already has low prices and sells nearly every item someone could put on their wish list – even if that item is bananas. However, I was surprised to find that, according to Nielsen’s Consumer Report, mass retailers like Target fall behind regular department stores, electronic stores, and online shopping across America. But then I knew my data was skewed when J. Crew came in second.

4. People would rather shop without their pants on.

Every year, more people choose to Black Friday shop online or shop on Cyber Monday rather than visit stores in person – 46% of shoppers versus 13% of shoppers, respectively, according to USA Today. While some people stated that they don’t trust the Internet marketplace or would rather go in person, most stated that the appeal of online shopping is that “it’s easier.”

5. Thanksgiving is about spending time with family.

Whether people decided to shop or to stay home, most of my participants stated that their motivation was to spend time with their families. For some, the experience was one that had become a tradition within their families, and for others it was one they would like to try at least once. One participant said that her “mom likes to and she needs a buddy.”

So whether you’ll be one of the millions standing in line or one of the millions sleeping off her turkey coma, you’re not alone. Black Friday is an American tradition, beloved or despised, and will remain so even as it changes to fit the times. Enjoy your turkey, your shopping, and your family.

Happy Thanksgiving!