Shopping is nowadays a very popular activity in our modern society. A growing development of various stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets turns it into entertainment and pleasure. The marketing policy makes the goods more attractive and available which any customer can not stand buying. Depending on the area of their interests people spend money on clothes, IT-gadgets, food, cars, make-up and accessories, sports etc. Sometimes such behaviour of buying spins out of control and states a mental disorder named shopaholism which is dangerous to any consumer as alcohol or drug addiction. Overshopping becomes a new issue for discussion in the psychology since times when the process of globalization and drastic economy development takes place in the world.
Although after Dr. Benson “shopping, at its best, is an activity that can promote self-definition, even healing.”(Feuer, 2009) It means that every person needs some mental treatment in order to raise his or her self-estimation. While buying we feel something such as delight because we deserve this thing or can simply let us have it. Black Friday in America can serve as the best example of the shopping ideology which shows all scarcity and social proof principles of market madness.
Black Friday comes in the United States at the end of November following Thanksgiving Day and before Christmas. Even the most reluctant shoppers being in a festive mood can make a real bargain. At this day from the biggest mall to the smallest store every shop front shines with the bright signboards calling: “Sale! Sale!” Nowadays on-line shopping becomes very popular which also offers a lot of discounts and tempts most of the customers who stay at home. The term “Black Friday” originates in Philadelphia and has been used in different contexts. One of them goes back to the 19th century and is connected with the financial crisis of 1869 while the second one is describing long queues of cars and people eager to buy something in their pursuit of Christmas presents. “In January 1966 “Black Friday” is the name given by the Philadelphia Police Department to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. “Black Friday” officially opens the Christmas shopping season in Center City, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.”(Apfelbaum, 1966)
The agitation and love behind the Black Friday are two feelings which are well known for every American keen on purchasing. The biggest fans of this day even set up their tents near the entrances of the large shopping centres in order to be the first who comes into the store and do not skip the opportunity to buy the desirable thing for the lowest price. As there is always the scarcity of the goods with the cheapest prices people are standing in queues since the Thursday afternoon or even earlier. A Thursday before the Black Friday is usually called the Grey Thursday. The shops are opened from Thursday evening till the Friday midnight what certainly differs in all cities and towns in America. The whole activity looks like a competition for those aiming to do their best to get the largest amount of the goods for low prices. Here is a small description from the New York Times article describing the Black Friday atmosphere of 2014: Still, the weather did not stop the most eager shoppers. In Nashua, N.H., eight inches of snow, subzero temperatures and a loss of electricity to some homes did not deter a determined crowd, where some teenagers snuggled under blankets, and other shoppers stood in lines wearing ski masks and long winter coats. Elsewhere, parking lots were jammed as more retailers than ever opened with major markdowns as enticements, especially on electronics.”(Tabuchi, 2014)
Psychology behind love for the Black Friday is on the one hand very clear and simple but on the other hand there are some complicated problems to be sold. What kind of love lies in this particular day of the week once a year? To answer this question let us find out what categories of people can be distinguished from the crowd attacking and devastating the shop counters. The first category is the shopaholics. They are customers who are addicted to shopping. These people are ready to buy everything they like, need and not need at all; they shop for the sake of shopping. Every time the shopaholics see the red labels signalling the discount their eyes become brighter and their smiles are wider, the hearts are wildly beating and nothing stops them already from getting the object they are willing to possess. There occur even cases of violence and aggression among them resulting in quarrelling and fighting. The second category are people looking for Christmas presents with the possibility to buy them for the lower price. But their amount is not very big because most of consumers in their furiously quick life style do not have time to organize Christmas shopping beforehand and frequently make it on the spot and in a rush. The third category are teenagers and modern IT-lovers. Those people are trying to make a bargain of the up-to-date devices such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc. The fourth category includes all other people who just go out for shopping due to their necessity or simply due to their interest in order to feel and enjoy the atmosphere of the Black Friday.
All this market madness is based according to Professor Robert Cialdini on scarcity and social proof principles. In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” he writes the following: “in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic.”(Cialdini, 1984) In the situation with the Black Friday it means that all people waiting in a queue with us for the opening sales think that there must be something good inside. Our own excitement of possibly catching a deal drives us more than the advertising does. The lack of the selling goods encourages our consumers demand. Regarding all advantages and disadvantages of shopping love for the Black Friday consists in happiness of every person to be accepted by our society as he or she is and to have an opportunity to get something new which was necessary or desired thereby making his or her dreams come true.
1. Apfelbaum, M. L. (1966). Philadelphia’s “Black Friday”. American Philatelist, vol. 69 (no. 4), p. 239.
2. Cialdini, R. (1984). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York, NY: Quill
Retrieved December 16, 2014 from
3. Feuer, A. (2009, January 27). Attention, Shopaholics: Your Weakness May Be a Proper Disease. The New York Times.
4. Tabuchi, H. (2014, November 27). Shoppers Line Up for Black Friday Deals. The New York Times. Retrieved from
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