Black Friday: Psychological Insights into Seasonal Sales Phenomena

A GOOD DEAL Firstly, the allure of a good deal triggers a sense of satisfaction, even if the purchased item isn't essential. The concept of buying something below its perceived value or standard price appeals to consumers. This perception of getting a bargain contributes significantly to spending during Black Friday. 

Moreover, research suggests that consumers' choices between alternatives can be influenced by anticipating the regret and responsibility they would feel if they made the wrong decision (Simonson, 1992). It's proposed that anticipating feelings of regret and responsibility can lead consumers to opt for conventional or default options, such as purchasing a currently available item on sale rather than waiting for a better sale or preferring a higher-priced, well-known brand over a less expensive, lesser-known brand.  

Recent findings on anticipated regret further support the influence of future feelings on present decision-making. Individuals often evaluate choices by anticipating the regret and responsibility they might experience, even without complete outcome information. This aspect guides consumers to make choices, especially during sales events like Black Friday, where the fear of missing out on a deal can heavily influence decisions. Anticipated regret, in such scenarios, nudges consumers toward making immediate purchases rather than risking future regret of missing a limited-time offer. This psychological factor continues to shape consumer behavior and contributes significantly to the urgency and impulse to buy during sales events.  

Interestingly, current retail practices often include generous return policies, allowing customers to give products back. This is an excellent solution for those anticipating regret over purchases made during sales events like Black Friday. The mindset of "I can always return it if needed" can alleviate some of the anxiety associated with making quick, possibly impulsive decisions during sales. 


Black Friday tempts consumers through a combination of strategic marketing and inherent human impulses. 

Additionally, the fear of missing out (FOMO) amplifies during limited-time offers. The idea of missing a chance at a discounted product feels riskier than making the purchase itself, driving people to buy things they might not have considered otherwise. Retailers capitalize on this psychological phenomenon by labeling their sales as time-sensitive, intensifying the urge to buy. 


Another psychological tactic mentioned in a CNBC article is the concept of "shopping momentum." Making a purchase prompts a psychological impulse to buy more. Retailers often use doorbuster deals as a loss leader, attracting customers with discounted items to encourage further, full-priced purchases. It's not just about the initial deal; it's about getting consumers through the door and encouraging additional spending.  

Intriguingly, promotions such as Black Friday isn't solely about grabbing discounts. It often serves as an emotional escape, providing a unique experience and a thrilling diversion from everyday stressors. This experiential aspect further contributes to the event's magnetic appeal, drawing in individuals seeking excitement and a break from routine. 

by dr Naomi Muñoz Vilches, Lead researcher


  • Simonson I., The Influence of Anticipating Regret and Responsibility on Purchase Decisions, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 19, Issue 1, June 1992, Pages 105–118, 

  • Shih E., Jensen Schau H., To Justify or Not to Justify: The Role of Anticipated Regret on Consumers’ Decisions to Upgrade Technological Innovations, Journal of Retailing, Volume 87, Issue 2,2011, Pages 242-251, ISSN 0022-4359,