Study: Why We Shop On Black Friday
1 year ago
Half Of Shoppers Spend Three Hours Or More Hunting Bargins
Two professors at South Carolina’s Winthrop University may have found an explanation to all the Black Friday mayhem.
Over a two-year period, Jane Boyd Thomas and Cara Peters conducted interviews with experienced female Black Friday shoppers. The researchers wanted to study the consumption rituals associated with Black Friday, one of the largest shopping days in the USA. What they found was a distinct psychology underpinning for the experience.
Almost all the shoppers they surveyed started their shopping days before 9 a.m., and most spent at least three hours hunting down bargains. But none matched the tenacity of one woman who had been a Black Friday shopper for 18 years. Starting her day at midnight on Thanksgiving, she spent the next 16 hours shopping.
“For the person who’s been doing this for decades, this is as much of their Thanksgiving tradition as having turkey,” co-author Thomas said. “That’s why they’re going to endure lines and probably even thrive in the lines.”
The National Retail Federation estimates 152 million people will shop between Friday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, up from the 138 million last year. That means nearly half of Americans will lose sleep, crush into stores and wait in eternal lines in order to take part in holiday shopping.
Here’s what researchers found to why we all go crazy on Black Friday:
The crowds make us happy
Ordinarily shoppers are turned off by crowds. But research revealed that crowds generate a different feeling entirely—competition. When hundreds of shoppers are rushing to collect marked down goods it creates a sense of enjoyment from the mere process of buying goods.
We love the hunt
Black Friday is “hunting for women,” Leisa Reinecke Flynn, professor of marketing and fashion merchandising at the University of Southern Mississippi, told Washington Post. “It’s so much like deer hunting it’s hard to tell the two apart.” The researchers also found that their subjects like to show off their “prizes” at the end of the day.
Those who plan, push
Alarmingly, the study revealed that those who strategically plan their Black Friday expedition in advance—scouring through newspapers, the Internet and TV ads for the best Black Friday deals days in advance—are more likely to be rowdy.
It’s about togetherness
Thomas and Peter’s research found that Black Friday shopping combines elements of both traditional shopping and holiday rituals. Shoppers planned extensively for Black Friday — as they would for a holiday meal — and relish the day in part because it allows them to spend time with close friends and family.
The Washington Post first reported this story.