Black Friday: One-Third Or More Will Shop, Many Will Treat Themselves

November 19, 2012

4 in 10 US consumers plan to shop online or in-store on Black Friday, details in November survey results. Those results are mirrored by a Periscope IQ study, which found 38% of respondents saying they will definitely or probably shop on Black Friday, although an Ipsos study puts the number slightly lower, at 34%, and a WSL/Strategic Retail study also pegs the figure at one-third. The survey reveals that among likely Black Friday shoppers, almost three-quarters plan to spend as much (52%) or more (21%) than they did last year, while 18% will spend less.

Black Friday isn’t for everyone, though. Further survey results from show that many adults view the day as quite stressful. For example, 34% indicate that the thought of all the people in one store is scary, while 28% are wary of the item they want being out of stock before they can purchase it, and 26% are leery of all the competition with other shoppers. Among respondents to a Lab42 survey, the top reasons for not shopping on Black Friday are that it’s too crowded, they would prefer to relax at home, and that they can find the same deals online. Aside from that perceived lack of incentive to shop in-store, 42% said they think Black Friday deals will be available at a later date.

Indeed, according to WSL/Strategic Retail, 78% of Black Friday shoppers think the crowds have become too crazy, and two-thirds think they can get better deals online or on Cyber Monday.

There appear to be some negative opinions developing among shoppers. 6 in 10 Lab42 survey respondents said that Black Friday has changed in the past 3 years, and it looks like they think it has changed for the worse. 55% think it’s more crowded, 39% believe the lines to check out are longer, and 29% think the deals are no longer as good as they used to be.

Does Black Friday Start Too Early?

The survey finds that 31% of adults believe that Black Friday now starts too early, as retailers open their doors on Thanksgiving, and even the day before. But some consumers don’t seem to want to wait: 23% of Lab42 survey respondents plan to start shopping before 3 AM. And according to the Ipsos study, 6% of Black Friday shoppers will actually start on Thanksgiving Day. Others will start around midnight (21%), around 4 AM (20%), around 6 AM (9%), between 6 AM and noon (21%), or in the afternoon (16%). To recap, according to Ipsos, almost half of Black Friday shoppers plan to have started their shopping by 4 AM.

Many Will Pamper Themselves

When asked what they typically purchase on Black Friday, 46% of the respondents to the Lab42 survey said they buy things they want but normally wouldn’t get. 42% said they buy great deals, 11% things they need, and a tiny 1% things they’ve never seen before. This tendency to splurge was also found by WSL: 8 in 10 Black Friday shoppers responding to that survey said the day offers a good time to buy things for themselves.

What kinds of things will they buy, though? A SteelHouse survey suggests that electronics will be top of mind, with 70% saying electronics are on their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping list. Other popular categories include media (50%), clothing and shoes (44%), toys (38%), home goods (30%), and jewelry (14%).

Other Findings:

  • Per survey results from LivePerson, 17% of shoppers will do most of their shopping on Black Friday, while a study from Google and Ipsos finds 12% saying they will do most of their shopping that day. Results from a Discover survey show 36% saying they would do a majority of their holiday shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Asked if they plan to shop on Black Friday, 18% of Ipsos survey respondents said they would do so primarily in-store, 4% primarily online, and 10% both online and in-store.

About the Data: The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Coupon Cabin from October 26th ”“ 30th, 2012 among 2,231, adults ages 18 and older. The online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The Periscope IQ survey was conducted online among a representative sample of 1,000 consumers aged 18 and older.

The Ipsos data is based on polls conducted October 4-8, 2012 and September 8-13, 2011. For the surveys, nationally representative samples of 1,001 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over residing in the U.S. were interviewed via Ipsos’ U.S. Telephone Express omnibus.

The WSL/Strategic Retail Black Friday study was conducted as an online survey from November 1-5, 2012, among 1,020 adult shoppers ages 18+.

The Lab42 survey was conducted among 500 American shoppers aged 18 and older.

The SteelHouse data is based on an online poll of 400 nationwide consumers, conducted by SteelHouse and

The LivePerson survey was conducted among 500 respondents, all of whom were over 18 and had shopped online at least twice in the past 3 months.

The Google and Ipsos data is based on interviews conducted via an online quantitative survey from 8/20/12 – 8/27/12, yielding a total sample of 1,500 holiday shoppers.

The Discover Holiday Shopping Survey was conducted online with 506 male and 497 female adults. The research was conducted from Oct. 26 to Oct. 30, 2012, by Penn Schoen Berland.

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