Today we briefly turn away from politics and look back at Thanksgiving, with an eye on Black Friday shopping. We asked folks if they actually shopped on Black Friday and that weekend, what do they think of  the early opening of stores on Thanksgiving Day, and whether Cyber Monday generated a lot of interest. The answer seems to be that Black Friday shopping appeals to only a minority of residents, and in-person shopping may be giving way to online purchases.

The full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with text, questions, and tables.


 Large Opposition to Stores Opening on Thanksgiving Day

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – ‘Tis the season to be shopping, but apparently most New Jerseyans were not in the shopping mood on Black Friday. Fewer than four in 10 residents took advantage of sales and savings on what is supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Numbers were even weaker for Cyber Monday, as just a quarter of Garden State residents made online purchases on that day.

Among Black Friday weekend shoppers, Internet buying was preferred to brick-and-mortar visits: 40 percent did all their shopping online, while just a third shopped in-person. About a quarter spent money both ways. While some of the state’s shoppers report spending almost $15,000 during the weekend, others limited themselves to window shopping. Most, however, say they spent a few hundred dollars, with $320 reported as the median expenditure.

“For all the hype, Black Friday weekend, including Cyber Monday, may have been somewhat of a bust here, reflecting national reports that spending was down,” said Ashley Koning, manager of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. “It may be that as many stores now stretch their sales throughout the entire holiday season, Black Friday no longer is anticipated as it once was. Moreover, the greater emphasis on online shopping reflects a growing trend of avoiding the lines at the local mall. Shoppers opt instead to purchase presents with the click of a mouse.”

Whether they shopped on Black Friday or not, New Jerseyans are largely opposed to starting sales early on Thanksgiving Day. Eighty-one percent say stores should have remained closed so employees could spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones, while 12 percent support early openings. Only 6 percent of respondents admit to shopping on Thanksgiving.

Results are from a statewide poll of 750 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Dec. 3-10, 2014, with a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points.

Black Friday a young person’s game

A defining characteristic of during Black Friday weekend shoppers is their relative youth; 45 percent of millennials (ages 18-29) and 43 percent of those ages 30 to 49 visited stores in person or went online. Older New Jerseyans seemed less interested in bargain hunting. Thirty-five percent of those 50 to 64, and fewer than 25 percent of senior citizens participated in Black Friday shopping.

“As we’ve seen in national trends, Black Friday appears to be for younger crowds,” said Koning. “Between the early morning hours, the strength needed to battle long lines and the deep discounts on tech items and other gifts geared towards millennials; older shoppers seem to be avoiding the craziness that has become Black Friday weekend.”

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, men (35 percent) were nearly as likely as women (40 percent) to shop during the holiday weekend either in person or online. Less surprisingly, residents in the highest earning households were 13 points more likely to spend some time shopping, compared with those in the lowest income bracket.

Most shoppers spent $500 or less on their Black Friday weekend purchases. Women were more likely to buy smaller-ticket items than men, who were almost twice as likely to say they spent over $500. Almost half of those in households earning under $100,000 kept spending low – no more than $200, while a third of shoppers in households making over $100,000 spent over $500.

Demographics of online shopping

With websites galore and an entire shopping experience at one’s fingertips 24/7, online shopping appears to be quite popular during Black Friday weekend in New Jersey. But online shoppers have some unique characteristics.

While both sexes report similar levels of in-person shopping Black Friday weekend, women were 12 points more likely to have done all their shopping online (46 percent to 34 percent). On the other hand, men were more likely to combine both online and in-person shopping (35 percent to 21 percent). Respondents with annual household incomes under $100,000 were somewhat split between brick-and-mortar (43 percent) and online (37 percent) shopping. Those earning over $100,000 a year were much more likely to have shopped solely online (46 percent) or done a bit of both (37 percent). Older shoppers were surprisingly just as Internet-focused in their purchases as younger shoppers, though the latter were 7 points more likely to have only shopped in-person.

Online Black Friday weekend shoppers – women, younger residents, and the wealthier – were also more likely to have shopped on Cyber Monday. Half of Black Friday weekend shoppers also shopped on Cyber Monday, as did more than three-quarters of Black Friday online shoppers.

 New Jerseyans say ‘no thank you’ to Thanksgiving shopping

Large majorities of all demographic groups oppose stores opening early for sales on Thanksgiving Day. Men are more amenable to the idea: 20 percent compared with just 6 percent of women.

Black Friday weekend shoppers are no different than nonshoppers on this point. More than eighty percent of both groups say stores should have remained closed. Residents who attend services more frequently are more likely to oppose store openings on Thanksgiving.

Even with the increasing number of stores opening early, few New Jerseyans admit to having shopped on Thanksgiving Day. But of those who went out on Black Friday itself, 11 percent also said they searched for bargains on the holiday, as did even a small 4 percent of those who thought stores should have remained closed.


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