Today is known as Black Friday, the day when massive crowds of humans engage in apparently frantic consumerism.
While I am curious about this yearly shopping frenzy, this post is being written at home where I am far from the crowds and content to let others experience in person the close-body-contact-sport of Black Friday shopping.
Apparently the shopping phenomenon known as Black Friday began in Philadelphia, PA decades ago and grew to a multi-nation phenomenon:
"The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation was made: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss ("in the red") from January through November, and "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or "in the black"...." (End excerpt) (The following image is from the above-cited article)
The website BlackFridayDeathCount.com has a list of injuries and deaths on Black Friday. The 2013 and 2014 incidents so far follow. (Please note I have not verified this information.)
2014 UK Black Friday Madness: woman with broken wrist; head injury from fallen TV during 'scuffle'
2013 Shopper Pepper Sprayed, Arrested in Argument Over TV at New Jersey Walmart
2013 Thanksgiving Day bargain shoppers send 11 year-old to hospital
2013 Teen returning home from Black Friday shopping fell asleep at wheel, killed in wreck
2013 Man Stabbed During Black Friday Event at Carlsbad Mall
2013 Newport, Arkansas Walmart employee injured during Black Friday sales
2013 Scenes of chaos during chain store's Black Friday sales in Northern Ireland
2013 Several injured in Black Friday-related shooting outside Kohl's in Illinois
2013 Black Friday: Virginia Man Stabbed In Walmart Parking Lot Over Space
2013 Rialto Walmart brawl sends one police officer to hospital
2013 Shopper carrying TV home from Target shot in Las Vegas
The website AthleticBusiness.com has some interesting analyses of crowd dynamics in the article "Understanding Crowds Key to Controlling Fan Violence". The chart "25 Techniques Of Situational Prevention is difficult to reproduce here. You may want to look at it on the AthleticBusiness.com site.
An article excerpt follows:
"...Crowds, by their very nature, create dangerous dynamics. Most crowd structures provide cues that make aggressive and destructive behavior seem like a more attractive option.
To explain this, first consider how crowds tend to provoke violence. While a sold-out or oversold sporting event increases profits, highly dense crowds also increase unwanted physical contact between strangers. They increase wait times, thereby increasing frustration and stress. Dense crowds can also make movement difficult. In emergency or mass-panic situations, this can lead to swarming and crowd crushes, which often result in severe injuries or death.
Large crowds also make engaging in violence easier, less risky, more rewarding and excusable. Having many people around makes it easier for me to find help if I want to jump over a wall, light a match to start a fire, or have someone purchase alcohol if I'm underage. Crowds also reduce perceptions of risk by providing cover. I may think it will be easier to conceal my identity or slip away when surrounded by a large group of individuals. Or, I may feel more confident in confronting others if backed by a group of friends.
If my goal is to injure many people, a crowd is a rewarding target. If my goal is to attract attention, a crowd that reacts positively to my disobedience serves as my reward and can encourage further misbehavior.
Finally, I may find it easier to excuse my behavior in a crowd, particularly if I can point to several others who were engaged in the same behavior...." (End excerpt)
"Why Black Friday Is a Behavioral Economist’s Nightmare" by Kevin Roose has some interesting points about implied scarcity, confirmation bias, irrational escalation, pain anesthetization and post-purchase rationalization:
The above-cited article links to a study titled "Neural Predictors of Purchases":
Apparently the shopping frenzy has reached Britain as demonstrated by the following photo titled "Staff tried to keep order as customers competed over items including televisions":
Lest I seem immune to the attractions of shopping, it may be that the types of purchases I would wait in line for have not been available.
For instance, if the county I live in announced a Black Friday sale of 50% off on property taxes, I would consider waiting in line to make sure I could take advantage of the special pricing.
Please feel free to add relevant information.