Holiday Shopping in a Post-Black Friday World

What social media conversations can tell us about the changing way consumers view retail’s biggest season

Holiday shopping season usually revolves around several key themes: lines of eager people awaiting stores to open early Friday morning, large crowds packing stores and the resulting brawls and stampedes, steep discounts on electronics like video games and TVs, and wholesome family time.

But those associations are starting to give way to new ones. In 2017, holiday retail has changed.

Black Friday is no longer perceived as the only retail holiday; more consumers are shopping online, and a message not entirely focused on lavish spending is starting to resonate with consumers.

We analyzed millions of tweets about this season’s shopping holidays to better understand how consumer opinions about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are changing.

Black Friday is no longer the only retail holiday to look out for

While Black Friday is the most-discussed retail holiday, there are worthy contenders like Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday, a retail holiday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving designed to encourage people to buy from local and small businesses, has gained momentum in 2017. A holiday started by American Express, people have enthusiastically embraced the trend of buying from small businesses.

Comparing Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, Black Friday is still the most popular retail holiday in 2017, though that may not hold much meaning (which we’ll discuss more in the next section).

On Black Friday (Nov. 24) the total number of posts about the holiday reached 498k. On Small Business Saturday, that number was 146k. Cyber Monday had the lowest post volume, with 123k posts on the day of the event.

Are Black Friday and Cyber Monday Becoming More Similar?

Some things, like superhero movies, become more similar over time. Black Friday and Cyber Monday fit that mold. While Black Friday is typically associated with brick-and-mortar stores, it is shedding that image. Now, more people are opting to purchase Black Friday goods online. On Black Friday in 2017, the Black Friday online shopping discussion almost doubled from the previous year. Making Black Friday deals available online, combined with extended shopping periods, blurs the line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Tech still dominates

Though campaigns like REI’s #OptOutside discourage consumer spending on Black Friday, the lure of a good tech deal is too good to resist for many people. Aside from Macy’s and ModCloth, most of the top retailers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are known for their tech offerings. For Small Business Saturday, however, plenty of small bookstores dominate discussion.

Conclusion

Black Friday is still a popular shopping holiday, but the way consumers shop is changing. Social media data helps us uncover valuable insights on consumer shopping habits and consumer opinion on brands.

For more information on top retail trends, download our marketing insights for retailers guide here.

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