8 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Black Friday

Two people shop on Black Friday at Best Buy.
Ben Margulies, left, and his brother Jon Margulies, wait in line to purchase their Black Friday deals at Best Buy on Thanksgiving day in St. Petersburg, Fla. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder.

You may be a veteran Black Friday shopper with the inside scoop on the greatest deals and strategies — but how much do you really know about the day itself? 

For example, can you name which generation goes nuts on Black Friday? Or how Black Friday really got its name?

Knowledge is power, so we’ve rounded up eight of the most interesting Black Friday facts and shared them below.

1. More Than 50% of Americans Shop on Black Friday

Sure, you knew Black Friday was popular, but did you know it was this popular? Last year, 165 million people shopped during Black Friday weekend (which lasts from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday). That’s roughly half of all Americans. 

Wondering how to stay sane amidst the hustle and bustle? Think ahead and develop a plan of attack — bonus: Strategizing can also help you avoid holiday debt

2. Black Friday Can Be Deadly

You may have joked about toy rage and trampling before, but the scary, sad fact of the matter is people actually have died shopping on Black Friday. 

In the past 12 years, 12 deaths and 117 injuries have been attributed to Black Friday, Black Friday Death Count reports. 

If you’re nervous about battling it out in the stores, then Cyber Monday might be more your scene.

3. The Day Owes Its Name to Philly Cops 

You probably heard “Black Friday” originated from an accounting term: the day retailers’ profits finally went into the black. 

But, the name really came from Philadelphia cops who were frustrated with traffic and smog caused by the mass of shoppers. Retailers didn’t like the negative connotation, so they spread the accounting rumor. 

4. The Average Shopper Spends More Than $300

Can you believe it? Shoppers spent an average of $313.29 on their Black Friday shopping last year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation

Don’t let your holiday shopping get out of control: Create a holiday budget before doing anything else. 

5. Black Friday Might Not Be the Cheapest Day of the Year

Eek! You’ll find plenty of bargains on Black Friday, but don’t automatically assume everything is at its lowest price. 

The cheapest day of the year may be later in the holiday shopping season. Before you buy, check out our comprehensive guide for the best time to buy just about anything.

6. Millennials are the Biggest Black Friday Shoppers

A Gen Z sits on her brother's shoulders while shopping at the mall.
Victor Michalczyk and his sister Ines Michalczyk shop in the International Plaza in Tampa on Black Friday. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Would you have guessed millennials are the generation most devoted to Black Friday? We wouldn’t have. 

Technically, the group that spent the most were older millennials and younger Gen X-ers (35-44 years old), who spent an average of $413.05 last year. 

That probably shouldn’t come as too great a surprise, since that’s also prime parenting age for younger children.

Consider a new, budget-friendly tradition this holiday season: the four-gift rule.

7. It’s the Busiest Day of the Year for Plumbers

It may no longer be the busiest day of the year for retailers, but Black Friday still reigns supreme for another industry: plumbing.

“Often, the case is that a house already has partially clogged drains that go unnoticed, until holiday guests arrive and overwhelm the system,” explains Roto Rooter.

Want to earn money on Black Friday, instead of spending it? Advertise your handyman services in the weeks leading up to the holiday. 

8. Most Shoppers Actually Stay Home

If you only go for the bargains — and not for the Black Friday experience — you might as well stay home and shop online. 

Last year, 41.4 million shoppers said they bought exclusively online, compared to 34.7 million who said they patronized brick-and-mortar establishments only.  

Susan Shain is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.