With every passing year Black Friday gets larger and larger! Psychologists have been able to discover a distinct difference in the way Men and Women engage in the holiday shopping extravaganza.

Today is the day people. Black Friday or should I say Black Week better yet, Black Month. The deals are never ending! With every passing year, the holiday shopping extravaganza gets larger and larger. Although the exact origin of Black Friday is unclear, in the 80s, the term was used by accountants to indicate the period where retailers would financially get out of the red and into the black and boy, do they go into the black. Last year, $67.6 Billion (fundivo.com) was spent by 102 million shoppers (TheBalance.com) on Black Friday in the US alone.

We can break down these shoppers into various categories; the by-any-means-necessary shopper, the casual shopper, the Christmas-present shopper, the unplanned self-splurger, the list goes on. However, psychological research has outlined differences between two types of shoppers – Men and Women.

A study into Black Friday consumption behaviour found that women treat Black Friday shopping like a ritual “shared by multiple generations of female family members and close friends”. Shopping activities usual constitute a familial bonding experience including strategic planning and precision timing (Boyd Thomas & Peters, 2011). Researchers even found that for some women, planning for Black Friday shopping is a ritual that takes place on Thanksgiving Day.

Studies have also shown that women actually enjoy the experience of Black Friday shopping (Fischer & Arnold, 1994), while men are far more utilitarian (Fischer and Arnold, 1994) – they like to get in and get out. It is therefore unsurprising that studies indicate men as being more likely than women to shop on Cyber Monday (Swilley & Goldsmith, 2013) a day where most shopping occurs online during working hours where, rather than trawling through items on shelves, the transaction process is as easy as clicking a button (while your boss isn’t looking). Research also suggest that women in general are more sceptical of online shopping than men (Zhou et al., 2007). 

One thing that the sexes do have in common is Black Friday Misbehaviour. Those of us who have been fortunate enough not to witness grown men and women fighting like animals over home appliances and sofas have definitely watched it happen in a YouTube clip, or two or eight…it gets difficult to look away OK! Black Friday events have not only seen arrests but also murders! You would think that the heartache over missing out on a coveted item would be the cause of such chaos but that is not necessarily the case. Psychological research has found that both men and women misbehave due to a mixture of anger and sheer thrill (Sharron J. Lennon, Minjeong Kim, Jaeha Lee, Kim K. P. Johnson, 2016). So, it seems that rather than hiking up the likes of Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro you can find adrenaline junkies at your local Walmart on 24th November 2017. 

Whilst today may be thrilling, exciting and something you have planned for all year, we at The Psychology of Fashion would like to remind you to stay safe and to be smart this Black Friday. We can assure you that that 60 inch 4K Ultra HD TV will not do much in the way of bail money. 


Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a Fashion Psychologist and writer who has been featured in Marie Claire UK, i-D, Who What Wear, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Voice Newspaper, Gal-Dem, Black Matters US and more.

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