Last year, we served up a full course of data analytics based mostly on turkey and dressing origins. This year, the bigger story is that shopping for all the special people in your life has overtaken Tom Turkey’s spotlight.
So, in light of the strife about when stores should open for Black Friday, we’re celebrating the more commercial side of America’s favorite feast in the “The Data Analytics of Thanksgiving – Part Deux.”
Before we get into the commercialization of the day of stretchy pants, crazy relatives and turkey comas, let’s look at a few important political figures involved in the pardoning of turkeys and the nationalization of the green bean casserole.
Mary Had a Little Lamb & Hope
Who’d have thunk the great day when we increase our caloric intake by 3,000 calories would’ve been started by a poet and women’s magazine editor? But it’s the truth. And now you’ll have this information just in time to share when you have to dodge that personal question Aunt Sally passes with the mashed potatoes.
Sarah Hale, who was editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book (the first publication to copyright its contents) and the author of the famous poem about Mary and her naughty little lamb, spent 40 years lobbying for a national Thanksgiving holiday.
According to About.com, Ms. Hale, “saw the holiday as a way to infuse hope and belief in the nation and the constitution.” President Abraham Lincoln was looking for a way to reconcile a broken nation during the Civil War and that’s the short story of how it became a national holiday in 1863.
The Commercialization Begins
Under pressure from merchants looking to earn more money with an extended holiday shopping season, President Roosevelt (Franklin D., not Theodore) moved Thanksgiving back a week in 1939 (because Thanksgiving that year fell on November 30th, the last Thursday of the month), and declared November 23, the second-to-last Thursday of month, Thanksgiving Day.
However, the new date for Thanksgiving confused everyone. Calendars were wrong. School vacations and tests – not to mention football games – had to be rescheduled. Additionally, many governors didn’t agree with FDR’s decision to change the date and refused to go along with the new date. For the next three years, the country was split over when to observe Thanksgiving.
But not to worry. In 1941 Congress stepped in and fixed the problem by declaring that Thanksgiving would be observed on the fourth Thursday of November. And that has led to what eventually would become Black Friday – a day for pushing shoppers into the stores.
Since the 1980s, retailers have continually encouraged shoppers to come on in on the Friday after Thanksgiving and get their holiday shopping started early by offering deep discounts and hot gift items. And that brings us to some interesting data analytics for today’s post.
More Shoppers Tableting at the Table
According to a survey from Harris Interactive (for Digitas, creator of this festive Turkey Day infographic), nearly twice as many people will be serving up a little mobile shopping at the Thanksgiving table as in 2011. Surprisingly, it’s the college students who are enjoying a side of sales with their gravy.
The reason? Survey respondents say that they would “forego Thanksgiving if they had to leave their phones on the buffet.” For this reason, Digitas is renaming Turkey Day as “Mobile Thursday,” despite respondents saying they prefer the ease of shopping via their computers.
Is Christmas Threatening a Turkey Takeover?
In other Thanksgiving takedown news, it seems retailers are battling for your dollars earlier and earlier. The potential Walmart walkout by protesting employees is still hot news, but the world’s largest retailer still plans to beat Target to the deals by an hour. Walmart and Target will open their doors to the shopping enthusiasts beginning at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively.
Just like neighbor competing with neighbor for the best Christmas light display, retailers are “looking to beat each other to the punch,” says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at NPG Group. He’s coined the term “Christmas Crush” to describe the immediately-after-Thanksgiving-dinner shopping rush.
In a report from Oregon Public Broadcasting, Cohen says that the bricks-and-mortar stores are trying to “get the earlier consumer dollar . . . as well as trying to compete against online retailers who traditionally have had Thanksgiving Day when retailers were closed. Online had it all to themselves.” Not anymore.
He puts turkey, football and family tradition on the chopping block with this comment – “And what retailers want you to think is, ‘Forget the Thanksgiving dinner, the work behind it, think about the shopping part of it. The reward of all the holiday spirit. The gift of giving and the gift of getting.'”
Next Steps: What are your thoughts on the staged takeover of Thanksgiving? Hype or hypocrisy? Tweet us your comments. And in case you’re wondering where your feast really originates, check out this cool post from The Smithsonian on the origin of your Thanksgiving favorites.
Spotfire Blogging Team