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They Did What?: 

8 things you didn’t know about Black Friday


According to statistics, 12% of these Black Friday shoppers are drunk.

In just two days time, millions of shoppers will descend on the malls, high streets and stores of the world, prepared to spend and squabble over the year’s best deals. It is of course Black Friday, and things can get a little crazy.

But while the annual shopping day has gone from strength to strength – growing in popularity eight years in the last ten – it’s rare that we pause to digest it all. Here are just eight Black Friday facts that might surprise you.

Eight surprising Black Friday facts:

1. It used to mean something else

Black Friday is now well-established as the festive shopping extravaganza it is today, but it’s still a relatively new phenomenon. The term ‘Black Friday’ blew up nationally in the 1990s, but before that it meant something very different.

In the 1800s, Black Friday referred to a major stock market crash. Originally labelled on 24 September, 1869, investors on the New York Stock Exchange lost huge amounts of money as gold prices plummeted. Today, shoppers’ wallets are also left considerably lighter, but at least they walk away with gifts in return.

2. The average customer spends nearly $400

Shoppers don’t hold back, either. According to numbers by Statistic Brain, the average consumer spent around $380 in 2014. That number is falling slightly, indicating possible Black Friday fatigue – they spent an average $407 in 2013, and $423 in 2012.

Black Friday traffic jam in Madrid // Image: funkyfrogstock /

Black Friday shoppers run into traffic in Madrid // Image: funkyfrogstock /

3. But it’s not the year’s biggest shopping day

Despite those figures, Black Friday is still only the second biggest shopping day of the year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the commerce capital is actually the Saturday before christmas, as leave-it-late shoppers frantically scramble for last minute deals.

4. Shoppers go bananas for pajamas 

Toys, big screen TVs and larger purchases understandably prove popular on Black Friday, but other big-selling items are harder to predict. Pajamas, for instance, are always a huge hit during the holidays, with many stores selling out under the weight of demand. A statement from Walmart said the retailer has stocked 10 million pairs of PJs ahead of this year’s event.

5. It’s also a big day for drinking

The shopping mall isn’t for everyone (for some people, it’s a living nightmare), but Black Friday deals can be too good to resist. The solution? Turn up drunk.

According to CNN, more than 12% of Thanksgiving shoppers turn up to stores under the influence of alcohol. That might seem like a good plan, as long as you don’t mind being surprised by your own questionable purchasing decisions. Like that Minions onesie in your basket…

6. It’s more dangerous than a shark attack

We did say things can get crazy on Black Friday, but public safety is a genuine concern. Seven people have died and 98 people have been injured shopping since 2006 – mostly from stampeding and occasionally violent crowds. According to the National Geographic, there is on average just one fatal shark attack every two years. So add shopping to selfies on your list of things more dangerous than sharks.

A long day of lines can lead to frustrated shoppers // Image: chrisdorney /

A long day of lines can lead to some frustrated shoppers // Image: chrisdorney /

7. Not all shops are fans

With stats like that, it’s not surprising that some shoppers have taken against Black Friday – and even some stores have followed their lead.

Outdoor brand REI will be closing up shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, arguing that the annual shopping day has gotten out of control in recent years. A press release by the retailer said: “We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”

8. It could be on its way out

Finally, while Black Friday continues to gain momentum in many ways, there are also signs that it could be dying out. One thing acting against is retailer one-upmanship, as stores increasingly push their sales to other days in order to get ahead of the competition. We’re not just talking about Cyber Monday here, either – retailers now slash their prices on Thanksgiving and even the weeks leading up to the big day.

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