Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally been highly lucrative for retailers, but this year saw another drop in spending specifically on Black Friday. In the meantime, online shopping continues to soar, and the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend provided consumers with deep-discount sales. In short, the weekend itself is becoming less valuable to the average consumer. But how does consumer sentiment match up with this shift in behavior? How do perceptions of the 2014 holiday season differ from those of years past and consumers’ initial expectations?

As part of our recent research efforts, we leveraged Forrester’s Technographics® 360 multimethodology research approach to gain a better understanding of consumers’ shopping habits (using our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community) and to track online conversation and sentiment relative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday leading up to the holidays and afterwards (using NetBase aggregated social listening data). 


Online conversation about Black Friday dominated November, as consumers called to mind chaotic crowds, deep discounts, and more emphasis on retailers opening early on Thanksgiving. Conversation about Cyber Monday – while not as loud and much later to start – was twice as positive, with consumers gushing about convenience and the sales they’d found. Some were even enthusiastic about the many emails from retailers announcing their sales; the more relevant and targeted they were, the better.

Retailers should continue to leverage the momentum of online shopping, and consumers will continue to appreciate more convenient ways to manage the shopping process, paving the way for additional mobile innovation and tie-ins. In the meantime, consider taking advantage of brick-and-mortar locations for potential gift pick-ups as shipping timelines become less realistic — and recognize that some consumers may still be willing to pay for expedited shipping to ensure their gifts arrive on time.

For additional predictions on the US holiday season, Forrester clients can read our “US Online Holiday Forecast, 2014,”published by my colleague Sucharita Mulpuru, by clicking here.

To view the full online community and social listening findings regarding consumer sentiments during this holiday season, please see the slideshow below: