Social media reveals Black Friday backlash

Social media monitoring firm Social360 reviewed online discussions about the holiday shopping weekend, finding negative sentiment about Black Friday and positive reactions to Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Social media monitoring firm Social 360 reviewed online discussions around major US retailers during Thanksgiving holiday weekend sales events, finding significantly negative sentiments toward Black Friday compared with mainly positive responses to Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Some statistics below.

Black Friday backlash
With large numbers of consumers using the hashtags #savethanksgiving and #boycottblackfriday, the overall reaction to Black Friday this year was negative. Social360 said one of the main reasons for the criticism is linked to employee rights, because many retailers opened stores on Thanksgiving to attract more customers. Violence in stores connected to the Black Friday sales rush is another reason for the backlash.

About 450 people on Twitter used the hashtag #boycottblackfriday from November 28 to December 3 to express their outrage. Many consumers' social media comments indicated that stores weren't as crowded this Black Friday compared to last year.

What is Gray Thursday?
Gray Thursday is the new term associated with stores opening on Thanksgiving rather than early in the morning on Black Friday. More than 225 Twitter users posted the #savethanksgiving hashtag to voice their opinions about boycotting specific retailers.

Media outlets, such as Huffington Post and CNN Money, published stories about shoppers who were unhappy with stores staying open on the holiday. The Huffington Post article “Thanksgiving shopping is illegal in these 3 states” was shared on Facebook 2,200 times and tweeted by 168 people. CNN Money's “Disgusted shoppers threaten to boycott Black Friday Thursday” story was shared on Facebook 2,000 times and had 147 tweets.

Small Business Saturday shines
Social media mentions connected to Small Business Saturday were mainly positive and neutral, with a few users discussing their suspicions about the American Express sponsorship behind the event.

American Express' PR agency partner M Booth spoke to PRWeek about this year's strategy behind Small Business Saturday. The firm revealed that a big approach for 2013 was appealing to consumers' sense of community.

M Booth helped support and drive awareness of the company's Neighbor Champions program, which was created to “organize Small Business Saturday events in communities throughout the country,” said Sal Della Monica, VP at the agency. More than 1,500 “champions” participated in the program.

The firm also worked with American Express to launch the Shop Small Instagram handle, which Monica said showcased how consumers, businesses, and communities were promoting and preparing for Small Business Saturday. 

According to the 2013 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey released earlier this week, consumers spent $5.7 billion on the day, up 3.6% from 2012, and awareness of the day increased to 71% from 67% last year.

Cyber Monday stays out of trouble
Consumers and media made mostly “positive or ambivalent” comments about Cyber Monday, according to the Social360 research. A large number of news outlets, including Bloomberg, Reuters, and Associated Press, published stories about Cyber Monday hitting record sales.

Source: Social360, which covered the period from November 28- December 3, examined online discussions around select mentions and key words related to Christmas retail.

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