Why Crowds Rush to Shop on Black Friday

A psychologist explains why so many love the excitement of shopping on Black Friday and what to do if you experience buyer's remorse.

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CLEVELAND – Black Friday is finally here! And you know what that means – big crowds, long lines and amazing deals.

People look forward to it every year, but what makes this unofficial holiday so special?

“Ultimately, the one neurotransmitter that is probably most to blame for this kind of phenomenon is the rush and the flood of dopamine that we get,” said Matthew Sacco, PhD, psychologist with Cleveland Clinic. “It really hits that kind of feel good and instantaneous desire to purchase things in this context.”

Dr. Sacco said there are a lot of psychological factors at play on Black Friday, like a person’s fear of missing out. If they see others taking part in the excitement, they’re more likely to as well.

There’s also the rush of buying something that’s in limited supply or nabbing that incredible doorbuster deal.

And of course, as we all know, the busiest shopping day of the year can also bring out the worst in some people. There’s always an argument or fight caught on camera.

Dr. Sacco said that kind of behavior typically occurs as a result of the primal side of our brains.

“There’s a certain level of anonymity that they believe they have in that process as well, where, you know, I am with a hundred, two hundred, three hundred people through the door, no one is going to know that it’s me,” he explained. “It’s not a conscious thought necessarily but you get wrapped up in that group mentality and you know it can happen very easily.”

Dr. Sacco said if you wound up buying something you really didn’t need and are experiencing remorse, be sure not to beat yourself up.

You could always try to return it or sell it online to get some of that money back.

He suggests going shopping with a buddy, a budget and a plan to help avoid that.

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