These States Are at High Risk for Black Friday Violence

Trevor Wheelwright
TV, Streaming, & Internet Expert
Read More
November 19, 2018
4 min read

Here in the good ol’ USA, we take our sales events seriously, and none more so than Black Friday. After all the Thanksgiving turkey and football, we feel justified in getting a pair of sick new kicks, that giant-screen 4K Ultra HD 3D TV, or whatever toy will be bigger than Tickle-Me-Elmo this year.

Yes, we save money at these events, but at what cost? Sometimes people take things a little too far in their quest for the ultimate holiday gift glory. We’re here to help raise awareness regarding just how cold the holidays can be when folks are unwilling to share the holiday spirit. Don’t be a Grinch out there, homies.

Highest risk of Black Friday violence:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Tennessee
  3. West Virginia
  4. North Carolina
  5. Alabama

Lowest risk of Black Friday violence:

  1. Vermont
  2. Oregon
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Wisconsin

Black Friday data breakdown

We took three data sets to help figure out which states have the highest likelihood of Black Friday violence this year. While we’re not saying you should bet your grandmother’s Christmas gift on this conjecture, we think we have a pretty good guess.

We based our predictions on the following:

  • Violent crime rates per 100,000 in each state (20%)
  • Search volume for the term “Black Friday deals” by state (20%)
  • Previous reports of Black Friday deaths and injuries per 100,000 by state (60%)

All of the reported Black Friday incidents included were covered by the press and involved the police.

Basically, we took high violent crime rates, perceived interest in Black Friday deals, and previous Black Friday problems to find out which states may live in the deal danger zone and end up on Santa’s naughty list.

States with the highest chance of Black Friday violence
Our ranking
Violent Crime ranking
Interest in Black Friday
3West Virginia281
4North Carolina2421
11South Carolina1036
15New Jersey4332
18New York2745
37North Dakota374
38New Mexico248
42New Hampshire4813
43South Dakota1820
48Rhode Island4229

Correlations and key findings

  • You might notice the top five most dangerous states for Black Friday are primarily in the South. We can’t blame the humidity, but it certainly doesn’t help.
  • There have been no reports of Black Friday violence in the top five safest states for the last ten years. Something about those Vermont hippies has a definite “sharing is caring” vibe.
  • Be careful out there in the Wild West: California has reported the most Black Friday incidents—and even two deaths—but they do not have as many incidents per capita, leaving them off our top five ranking.
  • North Carolinians have the highest chance per capita of being involved in a violent Black Friday crime—Maybe go “caroling” that day instead?
  • West Virginians have the most search volume interest in the query “Black Friday deals.” We wish them the best on their shopping adventures.
  • Too cold to care: Alaska has the least interest in “Black Friday deals,” according to Google Trends.

Stores that have had incidents on Black Friday

Walmart has had a disproportionate number of incidents—more than all other locations combined. This is most likely because Walmart is the largest US retailer, so they have more stores to begin with. Walmart is also known for having some of the best Black Friday deals, which makes people more competitive and, subsequently, more prone to conflict.

Still, judging by the data, even if you do live in a “risky” state, as long as you avoid Walmart, you have a higher chance of escaping unscathed.

Types of Black Friday incidents

Of the incidents that have occurred, notice the most frequent type has been trampling. By the time stores unlock their doors, crowds have already gathered, ready and waiting, outside. When everyone runs in at once, of course some people are going to trip or be pushed over in the rush.

Tramplings can also occur around popular items in the store itself when multiple people vie for them at once. A dozen parents fighting over one Luke Skywalker Landspeeder is not going to end well.

Car incidents are another notable type, and the third most frequent on our list. While most of the other incident types seem obvious results of people arguing or fighting, car incidents can happen because of overcrowded parking lots combined with customers walking to and from their vehicles..

Black Friday Survival Tips

No matter where you live, everyone can take simple steps to stay safe on Black Friday. Use these five tips to get the gifts you want for your loved ones and still return home to them safely.

1) Make a plan

What stores are you going to? Which items do you want from which stores? Pay attention to advertisements and mark what items you want in advance. You’ll especially want to figure out which stores you’re going to and in what order, and how you’re going to get through them safely.

All in all, you want to have your plan memorized before you set foot outside the house.

If you’re taking other people with you, agree on a meeting place at every store you go to, just in case you get separated in the hustle. If you split up, agree on a time to meet so you’ll know quickly if something has gone wrong.

2) Carry only what you need

You don’t want to take your largest, most unwieldy purse in a Black Friday packed store. Not only will you have a more difficult time navigating through the aisles, but also you’ll have to worry about potential pickpockets who could use the crowd as a good opportunity to snatch your wallet.

Travel light, and leave the tote bag at home. You’ll have more space to carry your purchases that way, too.

3) Keep your phone charged

Go into your Black Friday rush with a fully charged phone and emergency contacts ready to go. Whether you get separated from friends or need to contact emergency personnel for some reason, this is not the time to walk around with your phone on 20% and dropping.

If you can, carry an external charger with you. That way, if your phone does lose too much battery power, you have a backup source.

4) Leave if you sense danger

Whenever possible, stay on the outside of tightly packed crowds, and if you feel unsafe, trust your instincts.

No gift or deal is worth your life or your health. If you sense things going downhill, get yourself out of the crowd and the store quickly. Don’t fight to the middle of crowds or get yourself lost in a knot of people just to claim that discounted tablet.

5) Avoid Black Friday altogether

If you’d rather skip the crowds, dodge the lines, and never leave your living room, you can always opt out of Black Friday entirely and embrace Cyber Monday instead. You still get some great deals, and you can order your gifts without having to leave your house.

A final word of advice...

While we don’t know exactly how the madness will go on Black Friday, we can caution you to bring your most compassionate selves when the prices are down and you’re rolling around town. People are stressed, eager, and possibly full of tofurkey and cranberry sauce—be kind out there, kids.

Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
Trevor’s written about YMYL (your money, your life) topics for over six years across editorial publications and retail/eCommerce sites. His work’s been featured on Forbes, RealSimple, USA Today, MSN, BusinessInsider, Entrepreneur, PCMag, and CNN. When he’s not researching and writing, you can find him around Salt Lake City, Utah, snapping photos of mountains and architecture or seeking out some good tunes and friendly faces.

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