Black Friday 2011: By the Numbers

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Peter Foley / Bloomberg / Getty Images

A scene at a Toys R Us store during last year's holiday shopping season.

The most hype-filled shopping day of the year will soon be upon us. Here’s a roundup of alternately eye-opening, quirky, and confounding facts and figures about Black Friday 2011.
At least 2 Number of retailers subjected to protests by employees upset that their Thanksgiving dinners will be ruined because they have to work that night. Nearly 200,000 online signatures have been collected in an online petition opposing Target’s midnight opening; workers are also protesting the midnight opening of Best Buy. Employees of Toys R Us and Walmart, which are both opening on Thursday evening hours before midnight, aren’t bothering to protest holiday hours—perhaps because workers know there’s no prayer the corporate bosses will change plans if it means hurting sales.

5 Percent that shoppers would save, on average, by waiting until after Cyber Monday to purchase Consumer Reports-recommended TVs and cameras, according to an analysis of price fluctuations during last year’s holiday season.

9.5 Average percentage discount off the sticker price for new cars purchased on Black Friday—supposedly the best day in all 2011 to buy a car.

12 Number of days that a young couple in Florida is camping out on the concrete sidewalk in front of a Best Buy in order to be the first in line for Black Friday sales.

(MORE: 6 Black Friday Secrets Those Deal Sites Won’t Tell You About)

12:30 Time (a.m.) that Macy’s stores in Massachusetts will open in the wee hours of Black Friday/Thanksgiving night. Nationally, Macy’s is opening at midnight, but because of blue laws in Massachusetts and other states, employees are prohibited from working before midnight on Thanksgiving. Because that leaves no time for stores to prepare for Black Friday, opening times have been adjusted.

17 Percentage increase in frequency of promotional e-mails sent by retailers to shoppers in early November, compared to a year earlier, according to Internet marketing firm Responsys.

20 Number of years that Buy Nothing Day has been celebrated (by some) the day after Thanksgiving as an anti-consumerism alternative to Black Friday. For the big anniversary this year, the Buy Nothings are encouraging consumers to really try to consume less—perhaps through a Buy Nothing Christmas rather than just a single Buy Nothing Day.

24 Days before Black Friday that Amazon’s Black Friday deals page went live.

26 Number of hours in a row Toys R Us stores will be open, from 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night until 11 p.m. on the evening of Black Friday.

30 Approximate size of each group of shoppers allowed into Target stores at a time when the doors open for Black Friday; the system is in place to avoid a dangerous, chaotic stampede of consumers rushing into stores at the stroke of midnight. After 10 or 20 seconds, another group of 30 will be allowed inside.

(MORE: Black Thursday: Will Shoppers Really Show Up at Stores on Thanksgiving Night?)

17, 44, 55 Various percentages gathered in surveys forecasting the proportion of American consumers who will actually shop over Black Friday weekend. A survey from the NPD Group has it that just 17% of consumers will start their shopping on Thanksgiving weekend this year. A Discover Financial poll is more optimistic for retailers, indicating that 55% of consumers will take advantage of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday deals. The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey, meanwhile, says hat 44% of consumers are likely to shop on Black Friday of 2011, down from 47% last year and 52% in 2009. In yet another poll, from last year, less than one-quarter (24%) of consumers said they’d be physically shopping in stores on Black Friday.

34 vs. 70 According to another survey, 34% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to physically go shopping on Black Friday, whereas 70% said they’re somewhat likely to shop online for gifts that day.

90 Percentage of Black Friday shoppers who will be buying goods for themselves or their families that day; only 10% of survey respondents said they’d be shopping to purchase gifts for others.

300 Markdown, in dollars, for the Blackberry Playbook tablet at Staples on Black Friday; normally $499, it’ll sell for $199 (until it’s sold out).

30,000 Height in the air, in feet, at which airline passengers will be encouraged to go shopping starting on FlyBuy Wednesday, a new promotion running from the day before Thanksgiving through January 2, 2012, during which fliers get 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi access on planes—as well as access to special deals from more than a dozen online retailers.

(MORE: Holiday Price War: Hot Market for e-Readers Under $100, Tablets Under $200)

60 million Estimated number of smartphones that’ll be used by shoppers over Black Friday weekend; some 21 million of those consumers plan on making purchases via smartphones over the weekend.

152 million On the high end, the projected total number of consumers who plan on shopping over Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s about half the population of the U.S.! But, the NRF survey clarifies, only 74 million say they’ll definitely hit the stores, while the rest will wait to see if the sales (and consumer moods) are conducive to shopping. Also, this is a projection of shoppers over the entire weekend, not necessarily Black Friday itself.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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