Big Data

Thanksgiving by the numbers: Facebook, Twitter data spots the hottest retailers

Above: Craziness ensues at a Walmart in Florida.

Image Credit: George/Flickr

Don’t wait for the pundits to tell you what happened this Black Friday. And don’t make generalizations based on a TV news reporter’s interviews with two random people in line at the local Walmart. If you’re smart — and you are, I know it — you’ll want to look at the data.

Twitter and Facebook posts represent data worth mining for Black Friday thoughts. And on those sites, Walmart easily beat out other major retailers in terms of “social content amplified by shoppers” from Nov. 1 to Nov. 24, according to data from Shareablee, which describes itself a “social business intelligence platform.” Walmart picked up almost 20 percent of the “share of social word of mouth,” while Amazon.com came in No. 2 with 8 percent.

But that data is static — and out of date by now. IBM is tracking online sales on Black Friday, and it’s found that, as of 9 a.m. Pacific today, online sales were up more than 7 percent compared with that day last year. The average order this time around: $142.33.


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Mobile traffic for Black Friday is up a bit year over year, at 36 percent of all online traffic. Tablet users were spending more than smartphone users ($137.96 to 119.21, respectively).

Break out mobile sales — at 21.5 percent of all online sales — and you’ll see iOS devices doing most of the deals, with 17.5 percent, and the rest coming from Android devices.

That might mean Android developers could do a better job of designing applications that entice people to buy things. Then again, it could suggest Android owners tend to spend less than their iOS counterparts, plain and simple.

Finally, you could get an up-to-date idea of what’s happening on the ground from a nifty dashboard from the retail marketing agency TPN. Based on polls of around 2,000 people outside big-box stores in a few cities in the United States, the dashboard shows what those people are saying in real time. It updates every minute.

More respondents were shopping at Macy’s rather than at Target, Best Buy, Walmart, or GameStop, in that order, as of this morning.

Stores at which respondents were shopping.

Above: Stores at which respondents were shopping.

Image Credit: TPN/GroundCntrl screen shot

Before going shopping, 27 percent of respondents said they’d used applications, while 25 percent did so while shopping. Retailers’ applications were more popular than applications for rewards, coupons, lists, and price comparisons, the respondents said.

The data showed women outnumbering men nearly 2-to-1 — 63 percent to 37 percent.

More often than not, the respondents who found and bought what they’d wanted were getting a great Black Friday deal, they reported.

It’s the first time TPN released its dashboard, so it’s hard to say how the results compare with previous years. And the sample size could be larger, and input could stream in from more cities. Still, displaying survey responses as they’re recorded is a nice way for people to keep score at home, and the data could be useful for companies to promote their deals and applications more.

All of this data, while entertaining to see while we feast on Thanksgiving leftovers, is still preliminary. We’re only seeing the Black Friday shopping insanity manifesting itself in tweets, poll responses, and online sales for part of the day.

More definitive information should come in the form of public companies’ quarterly earnings statements. For now, this is some of the best information we’ve got. It’s certainly more informative than what friends had to say at the dining room table last night.

More information:

International Business Machines Corporation, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed Big Blue (for its official corporate color), is a global technology and innovation company headquartered in the Northeast US. IBM is the largest technology and ... read more »

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 w... read more »

Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations. At the heart of Twitter ar... read more »

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