Black Friday: Have Retailers Gone Too Far?

According the the Google Survey we conducted on November 16th, 2012 – 67.1% of US Consumers Say Retailers Have “Gone Too Far” By Pushing Their Black Friday Sales to Thanksgiving Day. You can read the full press release.

Here are the actual results:

These results are significant, and suggest retailers risk alienating potential customers by starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, and being overly aggressive with their Thanksgiving holiday sales promotions.

In addition to the overall results, here are some of the more significant findings:

Finding #1: Baby Boomers Are Especially Fed Up…

  • 79% aged 55-64 say retailers have “gone too far” (Subpopulation A)
  • Whereas only 52% of young adults aged 18-24 feel that way (Subpopulation B)

This suggests retailers whose core target demographic consists primarily of Baby Boomers, should by especially mindful of their Black Friday promotional schedule – whereas retailers who cater to a younger 20-something demographic should be less concerned.

Finding #2: Consumers In Rural Areas Are Particularly Upset

  • 76% of Rural Americans say retailers have “gone too far” (Subpopulation A)
  • Whereas only 69% of Urban/Suburbanites feel that way (Subpopulation B)


This suggests retailers who are either located in or sell to customers in rural areas, should consider honoring the Thanksgiving Holiday – and postponing Black Friday promotions until Black Friday itself.

Finding #3: Customers With Money Are Most Offended

  • 79% of Americans earning $75-99K say retailers have “gone too far”
  • Whereas no other income group surpassed 70%

This third finding is particularly important to retailers, because this suggests among customers with the greatest spending potential, this group of consumers is more fed up than the general public. If retailers want to win the particularly lucrative demographic of Americans earning $75,000 to $99,000 / year, then they should strongly consider holding off initiating Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving.

For Boomers With Money: Retailers Must Tread Carefully

Retailers who cater to an older, higher earning demographic are at greatest risk and should most carefully consider the pros and cons of starting their Black Friday sales a day early on Thanksgiving Day.

In fact, as surprising as this may be – among those polled – 100% of Americans aged 55-64 earning $75,000-99,000 / year say retailers have “gone too far” by pushing Black Friday sales onto Thanksgiving Day. That’s correct: 100% of those polled. Here are the results among that demographic as compared to all other respondents:

Why These Findings Are Important

The fact that consumers are expressing disapproval of “Black Thursday” sales suggests retailers should reconsider or at least reevaluate their strategy.

For retailers, advertising “Black Thursday” sales could mean potentially hurting their relationship with customers in favor of maximizing short-term profits.

However, retailers who cater to a younger, urban demographic need not be as concerned of potential consumer backlash as those who cater to an older clientele.

It remains to be seen how a retailer’s Black Friday strategy affects their 2013 sales outlook, but it will be interesting to watch knowing how Americans feel about the issue.

Here are the Full Results of the Google Survey conducted.