Black Friday 2012 Factoids: What to Talk About While Elbowing Your Way through the Mall

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Here are some Black Friday data points to enlighten (and perhaps annoy) shoppers while they’re waiting in line for stores to open up, wondering whether prices will be cheaper next week, or arguing with a driver in the parking lot after getting into a car accident:

Increasingly, it almost seems easier to find things that are listed on sale rather than full price throughout the holiday period. In fact, 44% of shoppers say they will “only buy sale items” over the holidays because they anticipate that merchandise—pretty much all merchandise—will eventually be discounted.

More than 20,000 Black Friday deals are expected to be advertised this year, up from around 17,000 for Black Friday 2011.

The number of Americans who are likely to hit the stores over Black Friday weekend is down this year … to a mere 147 million consumers. In the buildup to Black Friday weekend of 2011, as many as 152 million Americans were expected to descend on the malls.

More than half of American consumers had already started their holiday shopping as of the first week of November.

(MORE: 8 Black Friday Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make)

Meanwhile, 78% of consumers say they wish stores would not play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, and 75% say that stores shouldn’t put up Christmas decorations until after Turkey Day.

Nearly one-third of American consumers think that Black Friday sales start too early; also, 34% get stressed out by Black Friday shopping because “the thought of that many people in one store is scary.” Some of the memorable (and scary) incidents experienced by Black Friday shoppers in the past include:

• Got shut out of a store because the fire marshall arrived.

• I almost got run over by an older woman in a motorized wheelchair.

• I was pushed into a skid of DVD players and ended up with a concussion.

Here’s one more reason to stay home: Progressive Insurance reported that claims over parking lot car accidents increased 36% from Black Friday 2010 to Black Friday 2011.

Does something seem familiar? According to NerdWallet, 90% of major retailer ads for Black Friday 2012 contain one or more items that was also on sale—often at the same exact price—on Black Friday last year.

Two-thirds of shoppers say that they may get better deals via the web than in stores on Black Friday, according to a WSL Strategic Retail survey.

(MORE: Holiday Shoppers Can Look Forward to an Extra Bloated Black Friday)

One-third of American consumers plan on shopping on Black Friday anyway, per the same survey—the same percentage thinks that Black Friday is the single best day for holiday sales, though the consensus is that bargains aren’t as good as they used to be. Nearly 3 in 10 consumers in another survey also said that the Black Friday deals today aren’t as good as they were, say, three years ago.

In a Deloitte poll, 36% of shoppers say they anticipate better promotions after the Black Friday period is over, and therefore they’re likely to postpone purchases until later in the season.

Almost half (46%) of Black Friday shoppers say that their typical purchases fall into the category of “Things that I want but normally wouldn’t get.” Six in ten shoppers say that they expect to indulge in “self-gifting” over the holidays—buying gifts for themselves that total, on average, $140.

If you’re buying gifts for others due to a feeling of obligation, you’re not alone. Some interesting data from a Real Simple / Women and Co. poll:

• 1 in 3 women spend $1,000 or more on holiday purchases

• 1 in 4 say they purchase holiday gifts for at least 15 people

• 42% wish they could stop gift exchanges with certain people

An impressive 63% of consumers plan on doing the majority of their holiday shopping online this year; 35% of online shoppers say they’ll surf online for deals on Black Friday this year.

(MORE: What’s with All the ‘Leaked’ Black Friday Ads?)

In order to get free shipping on online purchases, many retailers have minimum-purchase requirements—which seem to be very effective at prodding consumers into buying more than they’d planned. In a UPS-sponsored poll, 70% of online shoppers said they “have added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping.”

Among American families with kids under age 18, 35% are concerned that they’re going to have difficulty paying for gifts during the 2012 holidays.

A survey published in early October revealed that more than one-third of U.S. adults were at least somewhat likely to use layaway for purchasing holiday gifts. By mid-October, Walmart had registered $400 million worth of merchandise on layaway, about half of the total goods put on layaway during the entire 2011 season.

(MORE: How Layaway Is Starting to Resemble the Lottery)

According to the American Express Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America, those in the top 10% income bracket will spend 22% more on holiday expenditures this year, and account for 29% of all holiday spending. The bottom 90%, on the other hand, plan on spending 11% less during the 2012 holidays.