Survey says Black Friday is one chaotic day

This article originally appeared in USA TODAY.

New research shows that Black Friday doesn’t just look chaotic.

For many shoppers, it is chaotic.

And it may not be such a good idea for merchants, those who run the same study suggest.

Almost half of the shoppers tracked by the Consumer Problem Survey, or 44%, say they go shopping during Thanksgiving week without a list of things to buy.

Just over a quarter of them — 26% — aren’t sure where they want to go in advance.

They’re just convinced they need to be out shopping somewhere.

“These people are wandering around buying whatever seems like a great bargain,” says Ishani Banerji, research director at the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, which designed the survey.

These shoppers represent more than a third of all spending for the week, says Banerji, who spoke by phone on Tuesday from the Georgetown University campus in Washington, D.C.

The survey asks consumers how they plan to shop for the holiday.

More broadly, the researchers ask how people solve problems in nine major categories such as health, family finances, housing, transportation and communication.

It turns out that people solve more problems at the end of the year, says Kurt Carlson, director of the institute.

That’s another way of saying they shop more.

For example, a purchase of electronics could solve a health problem or a communication problem, says Carlson.

Another key finding of the study so far casts doubt on retailers’ assertions that they have to offer bargains to bring new shoppers into the stores on Black Friday.

The vast majority of survey respondents, or 83%, shop for Black Friday-week items both online and in stores.

In other words, they shop online but then go to a physical location to complete the transaction, Carlson says.

“Retailers think they’re bringing in new customers, but they’re just giving away margin” with holiday promotions, he says.

Only 5% don’t use the Internet at all, and only 12% shop exclusively online.

Added Banerji, “People go to stores they’re already familiar with.”

The survey found two-thirds of shoppers plan to make an electronics purchase, while 86% expect to buy apparel.

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