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It's Black Friday. Like 71 million other shoppers, you are at the local mall.
You spent hours waiting for the doors to open and another few hours loading your cart with bargains. You have crossed every name off your list and astonished yourself with the savings. It's time to head home.
As you back out of your parking spot, looking carefully behind you, your front fender creases the door of the car next to you.
Black Friday just got a lot more expensive.
Parking lot accidents are almost a holiday tradition. Maria Cashy, spokesperson for Progressive Insurance, says almost 25 percent of Black Friday accident claims occur in parking lots.
An accident waiting to happen
While "Black Friday" as a term has been around since the 1960s, the day after Thanksgiving passed the Saturday before Christmas as the year's busiest shopping day only in 2003.
In the years since, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the number of shoppers who venture out to stores or online over the Thanksgiving weekend has soared from 140 million in 2006 to more than 220 million in 2011. This year, the NRF predicts 71 million shoppers will hit the stores on Friday alone.
"Hit" being the operative word. Progressive looked at Black Friday data and discovered that overall claims on the mother of all shopping days had doubled from 2010 to 2011 -- and parking lot claims had increased 36 percent.
According to Progressive, the most common claims on Black Friday were:
Rear-ended someone/got rear-ended: 12.57 percent
Struck a parked car/your parked car was struck: 11.13 percent
Backed into another car/was backed into: 7.68 percent
Accident stats are unlikely to get better this year; the NRF forecasts that holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion -- much of it driven by Tweets and other social media that can have shoppers changing direction in the blink of an eye.
How to handle a Black Friday accident
While most parking lot accidents happen at slow speeds and don't usually result in serious damage, they can affect your insurance rates.