Casualty Surveillance on Back Friday

Conducting Casualty Surveillance on Black Friday

BLACK FRIDAY!!!  What a wonderful, and opportunistic, time to run casualty surveillance on all those claim files…right???  I used to think so.

Here is a brief history of the circus that is commonly referred to as, “Black Friday”.  The earliest iteration of a similar sort of “Black Friday” phrase is from the early 1950s.  This was not used in a positive sense; instead it was how Philadelphia police referred to the massive crowds the day after Thanksgiving that would appear for shopping and tourism, often in advance of the Army-Navy college football game which was often hosted in Philly.  It was also, early on, used briefly to describe the day after Thanksgiving in terms of employees calling in sick at work so they could have a four-day weekend.  The idea of the day after Thanksgiving being a massive day for holiday shopping has never been lost on retailers…

So… what about the casualty surveillance aspect?

What needs to be kept in mind here is that the day after Thanksgiving, that “Black Friday” for eager shoppers looking for door buster deals, has grown, ridiculously!!  It’s no longer a single day, starting at midnight, anymore, where we could easily target a mid-evening casualty surveillance to obtain video evidence of claimants driving, shopping and carrying heavy items, potentially.  I’ve recently seen, and heard, a number of advertisements making claim of “Black Friday all week!”, “Black Friday starting at 2 p.m. on Thursday!” OR “Black Friday starts NOW!”.  (The latter was during a college football game on Saturday!)  All of a sudden, it makes sense to run surveillance on a claimant starting the Monday morning of Thanksgiving and giving it as much time, money and resources available up to, and through, “Black Friday”!  But wait!!  Let’s not forget “Cyber Monday”…

“Cyber Monday” is a marketing term for the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. The term “Cyber Monday” was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online, beginning in 2005.  This was meant to help combat late night shopping, extensively long lines and the running, pushing and shoving to obtain that one item you intended to waste your Friday evening attempting to purchase.  This online shopping spree also offers many, many deals to consumers, without the pains of dealing with the doorbuster mobs of aggressive shoppers!  So… who wouldn’t want to stay home and enjoy the same types of deals from the luxury of their laptops, tablets and cell phones?

In review, when determining the best time to target a claimant for casualty surveillance surrounding “Black Friday”…well…there is no definite equation.  There is no “special sauce”.  There is no real element that screams “do surveillance NOW!” during this shopping carnival, aside from having those brilliant claimants that keep their social media pages current, VERY current!  Casualty surveillance surrounding this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and all the bargain shopping, comes down to this:  Setting this mousetrap is a crap shoot!  Do we start at 9:00 A.M. the Saturday before to catch those deals?  Do we start at noon on Thanksgiving, banking on the notion that your claimants will leave family dinner and football for some early Black Friday shopping?  How about the old traditional shopping that day after our holiday feast in hopes that your claimant might be out for the midnight shopping run??

I’ve been asked, by many clients, my personal thoughts regarding “Black Friday” surveillance.  Personally, I do, embarrassingly admitted, enjoy a little day after Thanksgiving shopping; however, I strategize my time.  I like the 8:00 A.M.-ish stroll through our big box stores; rummaging through the remnants of the products that didn’t quite sell out and, on occasion, finding that lottery item stuffed deep into one of the clothing shelves.  You know, that some early bird either decided against last minute or figured it’d be there later, after the lines subsided.  Bottom line is this: all we can really do is analyze any social media postings, determine the possible stores demographically that MAY be visited and then hope for a little luck.  With all the options available now to help avoid the public on that dreaded day after Thanksgiving, I simply suggest keeping with an individual’s routine that week.  Remember, it’s now “Black Friday all week”, “Black Friday” sales online and the shopper’s savior, “Cyber Monday”.