All across the United States, Black Friday gives people a chance to score great deals on Christmas and holiday gifts and capture their dream electronics. But sometimes those rock-bottom savings turn into a dangerous siren song, and people go too far in their quest for a cheap TV or Hatchimals for their kid.
How can you get the best prices without risking your life for that Teddy Ruxpin? We’re here to help. We’ve tried to figure out ahead of time which states’ Black Friday shopping might end up looking more like a scene from Fight Club instead of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Highest risk of Black Friday violence:
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Lowest risk of Black Friday violence:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
Breaking down the data
We took a close look at data from past Black Friday incidents and where they occurred from 2006 to 2016. To figure out where they might happen this year, we combined past incident data with general FBI crime statistics for each state, and Google search trends that indicate which states are already on the hunt for Black Friday deals.
The states with the highest crime rates plus the highest interest in Black Friday—especially if they’ve had Black Friday incidents in the past—could be ripe for fights this year.
We’re not psychic, so we can’t say for certain which locations will have one too many over-eager patrons. But we can make a few educated guesses—as well as give you some tips to stay safe out there and still get the goods.
States with the highest chance of Black Friday violence
|Our ranking||State||Violent Crime Rankings||Interest in Black Friday|
Previous Black Friday incidents
Notice that even though California has seen a number of incidents in the past, they didn’t make it into our top five. They didn’t even make it into our top ten. That’s because California’s such a big state with such a large population, the actual risk per capita is not that great.
Some of the Southern states made our list because they’ve shown a significant amount of interest in Black Friday. That, combined with crime statistics, makes it seem more likely these states could face some Black Friday conflict this year. Same with the Southwest and Nevada.
On the flip side, it looks like the safest states might be in New England. These states showed less interest overall in Black Friday sales and ads, and their crime statistics indicate a lower risk of incidents.
Historically, violent Black Friday incidents have skipped most of the Midwest and congregated on the coasts and parts of the South. California and North Carolina have both had multiple encounters with pepper spray. Judging by past incidents alone, the Midwest seems like one of the safest places to shop the after-turkey sales.
But what if you live in one of the states that has had incidents in the past? Well, a lot of it depends on what stores you shop at.
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.