This week, millions of people will scarf down their turkey dinners, prematurely leave the table (and the company of their families), and then head into the night to spend billions of dollars on tablets, smart phones, flat-screen TV’s, and other gifts for people on their Christmas lists.
In fact, according to Statistic Brain, 23% of Black Friday retail shoppers will camp out at a store, arriving at midnight or before.
If you plan to partake in this festival of consumerism, here are some interesting trivia facts surrounding Black Friday for you to ponder and talk about with the other people next to you in line. Or if you don’t plan to go out, maybe you can impress your family members with this random knowledge to help pass the phases of awkward silence.
Either way, enjoy!
The History of Black Friday
Does An Earlier Thanksgiving = More Spending?
In the 1930’s, the day following Thanksgiving had become the day that signified the official start of the holiday shopping season for most retailers.
However, retailers became dissatisfied with the length of the shopping season. At the time, Thanksgiving was held on the last Thursday of November. Strong encouragement from lobbyists prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to change Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of the month. This change caused a substantial amount of controversy, forcing Congress to step in and negotiate between the two camps. The compromise brought about Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November.
Thus, this gave retailers another full week of holiday shopping to cash in on!
Where Did the Name Black Friday Really Come From?
Along with the cheese-steak and the hoagie, the term Black Friday is rooted in Philadelphia.
In the 1950’s, police in The City of Brotherly Love used the term to describe the horde of shoppers from the suburbs that descended into the city for the days after Thanksgiving, according to Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a neuroscience researcher at the University of North Carolina. The city promoted big sales and decorations, ahead of the Army/Navy football game on Saturday.
“It was a double whammy. Traffic cops were required to work 12-hour shifts, no one could take off and people would flood the sidewalks, parking lots and streets. The cops had to deal with it all and coined the term.”
City merchants also started to use the term to describe the long lines and shopping mayhem at their stores. “It became this comical reference to downtown Philadelphia following Thanksgiving.”
In 1961, there was a push to re-brand the day as “Big Friday.”
“They were worried the negative connotation would keep people from coming to the city,” said Taylor-Blake, who is also a member American Dialect Society.
Clearly, the effort didn’t catch on. So now, the retailers have learned to embrace the name, and have even expanded the one-day shopping event into a four-day marathon.
Source: CNN Money
Starting Black Friday Earlier and Earlier …
Prior to 1960, there was an unspoken rule that retailers would not begin their major holiday advertising campaigns until after the Thanksgiving Parades were complete. These parades took place the day after Thanksgiving. Well-known retailers like Macy’s sponsored these parades, using them to advertise. This advertising encouraged people to begin shopping and many did.
In the late 2000’s many retailers had crept to starting at 5:00 AM or even 4:00 AM.
This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) opened at midnight for the first time.
In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (except in states where opening on Thanksgiving is prohibited due to blue laws, such as Massachusetts where they still opened around midnight), prompting calls for a walkout among some workers.
In 2014 stores such as JCPenney, Best Buy, and Radio Shack opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as Target, Walmart, Belk, and Sears opened at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day.
Recent Black Friday Stats
Just how much do American’s shop on Black Friday?
- Black Friday Consumer Spending:
- In-Store Spending = $50,900,000,000
- Online Spending = $1,505,000,000
- Average Spent / Person = $380.95
- Annual number of consumers that shop in stores or online on Black Friday = 133,700,000
- Average consumer internet spending on Black Friday = $159.55
- Percent of Black Friday retail shoppers who camped out at a store (arriving at midnight or before) = 23 %
- Total Cyber Monday spending = $2,038,000,000
- Total retail spending in November and December (excluding autos, gas, restaurants) = $616,900,000,000
More interesting facts:
- 70% = Percentage of consumers who say that stores should be closed on Thanksgiving this year, up from 60% in 2012.
- Respectively, the percentages of shoppers ages 55+ and 18 to 24 and who think it’s “a great idea” for stores to be open on Thanksgiving = 16% vs. 50%.
- Number of days before Black Friday that two women in California began camping out at a Best Buy in order to be first in line for deals = 22. They hope to buy a cheap TV.
- Proportion of Thanksgiving Day shoppers who admit to hitting the stores on the holiday while under the influence of alcohol = 12% (according to a survey conducted on the behalf of the coupon site RetailMeNot).
- Percentage of consumers who say that Black Friday is meaningless because “there will be more sales throughout the holidays.” = 70%.
- The average discount on Black Friday for 6,000 items tracked last year by the deal-hunting site ShopAdvisor = Less Than 5%. Researchers found that the average discount during the holiday period was highest on December 18 = 17.5%.
- Proportion of Americans who feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season = 39%.
Source: Time Money
Readers: How many of you will go out shopping on Black Friday? Any good horror stories to share?
Featured image courtesy of David Haines | Flickr