Black Friday Burnout: Will Consumers Boycott the Holiday?

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Despite the rise in online shopping and Cyber Monday, Black Friday remains the biggest shopping day of the year (in terms of media attention, if not sales). Networked Insights wanted to find out how the conversation has changed year over year to begin to anticipate the specific topics that are on consumers’ minds in 2014.

We found using thematic discovery the main topics around Black Friday conversations and the change in share of voice (SOV) from 2013 to 2014. Topics include:

  • Anticipation – “Believe it or not, Black Friday is only about a month away!
  • Christmas shopping – “I want to get all my Christmas shopping done on Black Friday.
  • Thanksgiving – “I’m at the point now that Black Friday has destroyed Thanksgiving.
  • Cyber Monday – “I do not suggest Black Friday shopping lol. It is a mad house, however their is this thing called “cyber Monday
  • TV – “I now have a 39inch insignia tv I paid $169 for bestbuy during Black Friday”
  • Video Games – “This game is one of those games people will wait to buy on black friday.

The most startling finding was the steep drop in anticipation conversations surrounding Black Friday. Anticipation experienced the biggest change in share of voice, dropping 7.7 percent as conversations around working hours jumped 4.3 percent and Cyber Monday discussions, 2.8 percent.

Topic SOV 2013 SOV 2014 Difference
Controversy over working hours 0.0% 4.4% 4.3%
Cyber Monday 1.3% 4.2% 2.8%
Toys 0.4% 2.7% 2.3%
Christmas Shopping 5.2% 6.1% 0.8%
Video Games 5.4% 5.8% 0.5%
Thanksgiving 3.7% 4.1% 0.3%
Stores to go to 4.8% 4.9% 0.0%
TV 2.0% 1.5% -0.5%
Sales and Discounts 5.8% 4.2% -1.6%
Anticipation 52.3% 44.6% -7.7%

 

The drop in anticipation and rise in working hours and Cyber Monday conversations may be indicative of shopping habits this year. Drilling down into the top three concerns, we found that of those top three, working on black Friday had the highest share of conversation with 61 percent of the posts mentioning concerns or unhappiness around the same. Twenty-two percent expressed distaste for crowds, while a remarkable 17 percent of posts in this group mentioned a possible boycott of Black Thursday.

Tweets pulled from the sample seem to indicate that consumers dislike Black Thursday as a phenomenon for two reasons. Shopping on Black Thursday displaces family time, forces others to work on the holiday and results in huge crowds.

  • Y’all are excited for Thanksgiving Break and Black Friday and I’m here dreading the fact that I have to work Black Friday. #RetailLife
  • I hate that every store is opening on Thursday for blackFriday next now. Its blackFRIDAY and they are destroying family time/thanksgiving
  • I skip Black Friday because my hatred of people outweighs my love for stuff.​

Four primary retailers will be open on Thanksgiving this year: Walmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Kmart. Macy’s and Walmart saw the greatest number of negative conversations about working hours, as seen below.

chart

While the increase in overall conversations about working hours and the drop in anticipation may be coincidence, it’s clear that consumers take issue with Black Thursday because of its effect on their family and retail workers. More importantly, consumers are now discussing action. Given the increase in conversations about Cyber Monday and consumers’ distaste for the chaos surrounding Black Friday, shoppers may vote with their dollars and a larger proportion than usual may choose to stay home this year.

Methodology

We analyzed 63,386 posts about Black Friday and toys from long-form sources over the different time periods listed below using our semantic analysis tool, Doppler 2.0.

  • Black Friday 2014 Doppler: 12,382 posts analyzed, dates: 9/1/14-11/6/14
  • Black Friday 2013 Doppler: 11,592 posts analyzed, dates: 9/1/13-11/6/13
  • Toy Doppler 2014 Doppler: 39,412 posts analyzed, dates: 10/5/14-11/5/14​