First Command News & Media


Career Military Shifts Holiday Shopping To Black Friday, First Command Reports

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals two out of five middle-class military families plan to do most of their holiday shopping on the day after Thanksgiving

Print-friendly PDF

FORT WORTH, Texas — America’s career military families are preparing for a dramatic redirection of their shopping strategies this holiday season, with Black Friday emerging as the new centerpiece of an ongoing commitment to frugal living.

First Command's annual holiday spending survey reveals that 41 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday. This represents a significant change from recent years, when less than one in five families said they planned to make Black Friday the foundation of their spending plans. Last year just 13 percent of survey respondents said they planned to do most or all of their holiday shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.

This servicemember shift to Black Friday stands in sharp contrast to the plans of the rest of America’s Middle Class. Just 9 percent of general population respondents plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, statistically unchanged from the past four years.

These new Black Friday spending plans underscore the continuing commitment of career military families to frugal holiday celebrations. The Index reveals that 92 percent plan to cut back this year, statistically unchanged from the past two years. The frugal holiday spirit is also alive (albeit less pronounced) in the general population, where 78 percent of consumers plan to cut back this year. That’s about the same as last year and down slightly from the 2010-2012 period.

The 2014 holiday shopping season marks the seventh consecutive year that the Index has pointed to leaner spending in military families, reflecting a larger trend toward frugal living as a response to growing financial uncertainty related to defense budget cuts.

“This increased focus on Black Friday comes at a time when career military families are feeling increasingly concerned about the potential impact of defense downsizing on their financial futures,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Four out of five career military families are anxious about cuts to defense spending and more than half are concerned about their near-term job security. They are responding in a variety of positive ways, including a sustained focus on the frugal strategies they perfected during the economic turmoil of the past several years. By cutting back again this holiday season, career military families are give themselves the gift of positive, time-tested strategies in their pursuit of long-term financial security.”

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


Hiring Our Heroes Project Sanctuary First Command Educational Foundation Army FPA Alliance