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7 Black Friday Facts: Billions Spent and Lawmakers React

by Michael Higham, published

The Black Friday phenomenon that unofficially marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season began in the 1930's. Today, it has become a widespread tradition in America to get the best deals on products right after your stuffing of turkey. Here are 7 Black Friday facts that highlight the growth of this consumer holiday:

1. Money Made on Black Friday

In 2012, a total of $59.1 billion was spent over the Black Friday weekend. Average consumer spending was at $423 per shopper.

2. Growth of Black Friday

From 2011 to 2012, total consumer spending increased by $6.7 billion, or 13 percent. About 139.4 million people go out to shop over the four day weekend.

3. Black Friday is cutting into Thanksgiving

Black Friday has become so big that stores are cutting into Thanksgiving to open early. Shoppers had already lined up outside stores during Thanksgiving to hit the midnight deals, but stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and Macy's decided to not keep those shoppers waiting. Stores now open as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving day.

4. Policymakers have reacted to the growth of Black Friday

Three states have passed laws that prohibit retailers from opening their doors on Thanksgiving day, containing the shopping frenzy to waves at midnight: Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts.

5. How much do shoppers actually save?

From the Wall Street Journal on the 2012 Black Friday shopping weekend:

Customers were receiving an average discount of 60%, up from 38% a decade earlier. The twist is they weren't saving more. In fact, the average price paid by customers stayed about the same over that period. What changed was the initial price, which increased by 33%. 

6. How does Cyber Monday fit into this?

The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by and is an alternative to waking up (or staying up) to get deals on products. Online retailers offer similar savings the Monday after. Shoppers spent $1.98 billion on Cyber Monday in 2012.

7. Small Business Saturday is a thing?

In reaction to the large saving offered by large retailers on Black Friday, independently-owned businesses began Small Business Saturday. In 2012, $5.5 billion was spent in total on this day.

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