Black Friday Shopping Mostly for the Young

Colin Diltz/The Seattle Times

Despite all the attention focused on “Black Friday” shopping, fewer than one in five Americans say they plan to shop on the day after Thanksgiving this year. But more than a third of those aged 18 to 29 report they will be taking advantage of the sales and price discounts. Black Friday shopping intentions drop off as age increases, falling to eight percent for those 65 and older.

The Nov. 15-18 Gallup poll marks the first time Gallup has asked Americans if they plan to shop on Black Friday, so it is not possible to know if the 18 percent who plan to do so is typical of Black Friday shopping in the past. Nor is it known how the 18 percent estimate compares with shopping intentions on other days of the year. The post-Thanksgiving shopping experience now begins on Thanksgiving Day itself in many instances, and extends through Saturday and Sunday of the weekend, so it is virtually certain that many more than 18 percent of Americans will end up shopping at some point over the Thursday through Sunday period – either in person or online.

In addition to the youthful skew of the Black Friday shopping population, Americans living in the Midwest and nonwhites are significantly more likely than average to say they will shop on Black Friday.

Women are only slightly more likely than men to say they will be shopping on Friday, while there is little difference in self-reported shopping intentions across income categories.

Most Black Friday Shoppers Are After Cheap Prices

The relatively small percentage of Americans who say they will shop on Black Friday nearly unanimously say cheap prices and sales are an important reason for their shopping. Shoppers are less likely to say that getting holiday shopping done well before Christmas is an important reason for their behavior, and still fewer say they will shop on Black Friday because they have the day off, because there is a better selection of merchandise available, or because it’s a family holiday tradition.

Implications

While the frenzied advertising and extreme focus on Black Friday shopping might lead one to believe that the entire country will be out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, it instead appears to be a behavior confined to well less than half of American adults. Most Americans apparently will find ways other than shopping to spend the day after Thanksgiving – perhaps working, spending time with family, or relaxing around the house.

Black Friday shopping intentions are more common among those who are young or nonwhite, or who live in the Midwest. The most important motivation for Black Friday shopping appears to be straightforward — shoppers believe they will be able to take advantage of cheap prices and sales.

Source: Gallup

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