a word on percentages

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

[image found here]

Brandishing my English degree proudly, I do not mind telling you that I have not taken a math class since my senior year of high school, which was in 2002. eeesh! I am no math wiz, but I am not a complete dummy either.

Stay with me here.

If there's one concept I really "get"-- it's percentages.

I didn't realize until last night that I love to think in percentages. I was sitting in an assembly, listening to a speaker, when my eye wandered over to the Christmas trees and poinsettias flanking the stage.

I thought, "It's November 30th and perfectly acceptable to decorate for Christmas now that Thanksgiving has passed (see previous rant here).... But this auditorium will most likely be decorated for Christmas for an entire month of the year. What percentage of the year is that?"

As I worked 1 divided by 12 in my head [which is 8.3% btw], I realized GEEZ I like percentages.

One of my favorite metrics while working at Banana Republic was "conversion." Conversion is calculated by counting the number of people that come into the store, and dividing that number by the number of transactions, for a certain period of time. So, say in one hour you get one person come in the store, but you also get one transaction: that puts your conversion at 100%. That means all the factors of the store were working together and did everything they could to "convert" the customer's presence into a transaction.

I just LOVED conversion. If we got over what was considered a "good" conversion, I would just be giddy. "50% of the people who came in the last hour bought something! tee hee hee!"

Another perecentage doozie I've long contemplated is what I call the "Friday Phenomenon."

Get this: people freak out when it's Friday. You may even be one of them... I have been before.

"Tomorrow is Friday!"
"Gimme a break, it's Friday."

Like people want some sort of special pass because it's the last day of the work-week.

Here's the killer to me: Friday comprises 20% of the work-week.

20% of our weeks are largely spent talking about how we need to relax, it's Friday, or expect less of me, it's Friday! I'm not saying it should stop, I'm just saying that it is extremely silly, once the actual percentage is considered.

Any percentages in life you've considered?


  1. I love percentages! I always think of them in terms of shopping. 10% off, 25% off, etc. It was the only thing I really "got" in math class.

  2. I love "Take an extra 50% off clearance" myself.


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground