How Americans are Spending their Time and Money

What are Shoppers Talking About?

One week after Black Friday, a traditional day of deal-seeking shopping in the U.S. I thought it would be fun to talk about changing habits. How many of you have purchased goods online vs. standing in line or braving crowds in stores?

This infographic collects a few comparison numbers showing an increase in online sales.


Which products got the most mentions on Twitter vs. search? It would be interesting to look under the hood and correlate mentions and searches with conversion — did word of mouth do better? In the past, search led to a greater number of conversions.


Some thoughts in no particular order:

  • The growth of holiday spending by US$1 trillion in the last twelve years, even through the slump of 2008-2009, is significant and it accounted for more than 19% of all retail sales in 2012. Whether for gift giving or taking advantage of sales to upgrade, people may not like to be sold, they do like to buy. For an in depth look at the psychology of shopping, see the first two chapters of Why We Buy by Paco Underhill.
  • It would be interesting to take a look at goods vs. experiences split. I have been gravitating more and more to giving and buying experiences — for example, food and delicacies, shows, travel, including bringing family over to enjoy the holidays. Deloitte's 2013 annual holiday survey# finds that gift cards/certificates and clothing remain the top gift ideas, yet both categories are dropping in popularity. Socializing away from home on the rise among higher household incomes. Some gift ideas for every type on your list. Research has shown that buying new experiences has been tied to happiness#. The most compelling reason why is that they involve us in full present-moment immersion.
  • Many of the signals we discuss and use in social networks are about giving — gift points, review or recommend something, share a link, "like" a page. You get the idea. How much do we think about what we receive? Developing a sense of gratitude is also associated with well-being. More thoughts on the art of receiving.
  • Another point of interest is the number of lessons learned during this year's build up to a pre-Black Friday Thanksgiving retail openings, with related human consequences, both for workers who did not get the day off with family and over eager shoppers involved in brawls. IBM's 2013 holiday benchmark reported# Cyber Monday online sales grew by 20.6% over 2012. The average order value was $128.77, down 1% year-over-year. While smarthphones drove traffic to sites, tablets drove the most conversions.

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Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.