Black Friday shoppers, in one graph

The Black Friday shopping frenzy is rarely thought of as a pleasant experience, what with all the images of shoppers shoving, shouting and brawling over discounts. Nevertheless, we keep braving the crowds every year. The National Retail Federation regularly finds that Black Friday is the most crowded day at shopping malls across the country.

Last November, a team of consumer-science researchers at Eastern Illinois University sent 22 observers into the field to take a more rigorous look at Black Friday behavior. On a Friday morning, they observed 222 shoppers; 80 percent saw crowds of 50 or more shoppers lined up before 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. store openings. What they found inside the stores was pretty surprising: Despite a decent amount of “grabbing products” and “irritability,” the most commonly observed behavior was “calmness.”People also seemed pretty happy, too. I used their data to draw up this chart of the most commonly observed behaviors the researchers saw that day:


“Based on these findings, increased education and training of store personnel prior to Black Friday would serve in the retailer’s best interest,” the researchers conclude. “Store management and personnel should be clear about merchandise location, coupon procedures, and expected customer emotions and behaviors upon store opening.”

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