YOUR BRAIN ON BLACK FRIDAY


     It’s true, shopping is a drug for many of us. Like any other activity that brings us pleasure (illicit or otherwise), we can become shopping addicts. When confronted with the exhilarating sights and sounds of a big sale – the people, the music, the point-of-purchase displays, the shiny and colorful products all arranged just so – can be a real high. In response to such a stimulating environment, our brains release chemicals like Dopamine and Serotonin that produce feelings of pleasure that we want to experience again and again. Thus, we keep coming back for more.
     I thought it was my duty to warn you of such events given the proximity of one of the biggest, most exciting shopping days of the year – Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving has become a holiday unto itself – the official beginning of the holiday shopping season. The “day after” Thanksgiving, however, may be a misnomer. Many big retailers like Best Buy and Target, to name a few, are opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving Day – what the Wall Street Journal refers to as “Black Midnight”.
     Let me share with you a few tidbits about Black Friday. First, it’s not necessarily the biggest annual shopping day. That distinction often belongs to the last Saturday before Christmas or Christmas Eve (for us procrastinators). Second, Black Friday had a fairly inauspicious beginning. The first direct mention of a Black Friday occurred in January of 1966 in Philadelphia, PA. The Philly police coined the term to describe the throngs of post-Thanksgiving shoppers who swarmed the malls eager for Christmas bargains and in doing so created traffic accidents, traffic jams, altercations among shoppers, and numerous calls for emergency medical attention. Third, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the behest of retailers, moved Thanksgiving to a week earlier to allow for more shopping days during the Depression. A fourth tidbit about Black Friday is that in modern parlance it is used to designate the retailer’s revenue shift from in the “red” (loss) to into the “black” (profit). A good share of the typical retailer’s revenue and profit occurs during the months of November and December.
     Well, now you may know more about Black Friday than you really wanted to. Regardless of what you thought of the little “history lesson” above, I expect to see most of you at the mall on Black Friday. One estimate is that 50% of Americans will be shopping before 8:00 am on the shopping day to top all shopping days. See you there.

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14 Responses to YOUR BRAIN ON BLACK FRIDAY

  1. anne says:

    Great history on Black Friday! I prefer the idea of midnight rather than getting up in the pre-dawn hours of the morning on Friday, but hope to avoid both!!

  2. Rockell says:

    Interesting…It is great to know that the businesses make such a profit….no wonder they dont add more “Black Fridays” through out the year!

  3. Elsa says:

    I think it is interesting to see the things people will do for a good deal. The history behind black friday is pretty cool. I never thought about it that way. Now i will have some fun facts to share at the thanksgiving table!

  4. Suzanna says:

    Never really understood the obsession of Black Friday… The fun of shopping is relaxing not frantically storming around a store with a mob like mentally… But I’m more of a grazer shopper…

  5. mike Guillory says:

    It seems like black friday is spilling over into Thanksgiving day because I noticed that last year a few stores were actually open such as Gander Mountain.

  6. Kinsey says:

    I think this “shopping holiday” is ridiculous. My parents never shopped for presents on black Friday. I’m proud to say my family has always reserved the Thanksgiving holiday to be thankful for what we have- not a quest for what we don’t have. I have an older cousin who does participate and he thinks the complete opposite. He thinks that its a smart way to shop and save for the family. I think everyone has their own opinion, but no ‘deal’ is worth the hassle, lines and missed family time!

  7. jim_roberts says:

    Amen to that, sister!

  8. Korrie says:

    Oh the infamous “Black Friday”. I’ve worked retail for the past four holiday seasons, starting in high school, and those two words are dreaded among retail employees. Our store would start preparing a week in advance, and the company eventually even decided to be open on Thanksgiving day to help balance traffic. I understand that the sales are great, however I’m not sure going out into the chaos is worth it. I’ve noticed that those items put on sale at midnight generally are going to continue to be on sale throughout the rest of the holiday season. The price may be a little higher, but at least you avoid the chaos of shoppers.

  9. elizabeth m says:

    I thank you for the brief lesson. its simple and interesting how things become a part of our popular culture.

  10. Juan Pablo Gomez says:

    It’s good to learn about how our brain processes stimuli and sensorial information that guide us to make decisions.

    According to some studies in neuroscience our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information per second, and our conscious brain is only capable of processing 40 bits of information per second. The result is that most of our decisions are processed in our subconscious brain.

    Companies are investing millions of dollars to get information about how our brains work and process information.

  11. jim_roberts says:

    Very interesting post Juan Pablo. We are overwhelmed by all that information competing for our attention. Many studies show that we make worse decisions with more information. I hope you’re not shopping this Black friday 🙂

  12. Lindsey says:

    Knowing the history of Black Friday is interesting! I agree with most of the previous comments, I believe Thanksgiving should be a time spent with family to celebrate what we have. Stores (Walmart) are opening earlier every year and Old Navy was even open on Thanksgiving. Why someone would want to spend their holiday standing in line for a small sale is beyond me, but I guess that just shows how consumer driven our country is.

  13. A_Rogers says:

    Interesting. My family has never really gone out shopping the day after Thanksgiving, so I’m proud to say that I’ve never participated in Black Friday in my life…and I hope it that I never will.

  14. Derek Lewis says:

    Very interesting, I never really knew when and where Black Friday had originated or any of its history actually. For a commercial sales stand point it seems like a good idea but I feel over the years it has changed into something that people go too far with just to save a few bucks.

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