Debates about Christmas shopping on social media

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The topic of Christmas shopping resonates significantly on social media this year. In the last 3 months, Christmas shopping has emerged in almost 120,000 mentions on Czech social media. This represents a threefold increase compared to last year. The content analysis from Newton Media also shows that Czechs often plan to shop only online and preferably secure their gifts in advance. What to buy this year has also been addressed.

The analysis is based on a content analysis of 10 % of a sample of 117,029 mentions among Czech users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, in discussions under articles in the media and on online forums in the period from the 5th of October till the 5th of December 2020. The scope of discussions on this topic correlates with current government regulations. The initial increase in debates had been provoked by a ban on retail sales from the 22nd of October, with a much greater response among users caused by the reopening of stores on the 3rd of December.

E-commerce in the Czech Republic is growing more than expected

Reactions to the closure of stores were not as negative as might had been expected. Many users say they will buy gifts exclusively online this year. The topic of online shopping in the discussions has grown this year by 28 % compared to last year. “There is a clear impact of the covid pandemic, as 27 % of all e-commerce mentions published between mid-August and mid-November had an explicit or contextual link to the epidemic situation,” says Kristýna Jiroutová, a social media analyst at Newton Media, according to whom only 9 % of mentions were directly related to Christmas or the purchase of Christmas gifts.

Jiroutová’s words are also confirmed by Jan Vetyška, Executive Director of the Association of E-Commerce (APEK): “Compared to 2019, e-commerce in the Czech Republic recorded a year-on-year increase in sales of goods by more than 25 %, while the original estimates were about 15 %. This year, most gifts will be ordered on the network by more than half of Internet users, all of them by 11,3 %.” According to the analyzed social media debate, online shopping has several benefits, is convenient, queue-free, and without the risk of covid infection. Network users are concerned about the overload of delivery companies, so they often say they are buying gifts ahead of time this year. Opponents of online purchases also admit that they must get used to this form of selling goods and adapt to the situation. Above all, users demanded the opening of stores with goods that require testing. This mainly concerned discussions about children’s clothing and footwear. The criticism was directed at foreign chains, which, unlike small Czech retailers, may be open.

The reopening of stores at the beginning of December then provoked a wave of negative reactions. In discussions, it is most often said that this is a short-term and groundless solution. Users fear that the number of covid cases will increase rapidly and a third wave will occur in January with further restrictions. Social network users also share insights about the number of shoppers in malls. Most of them report that they did not notice significant queues in stores. However, Christmas decorations shops such as Pepco or Nanu Nana are often mentioned as exceptions to this rule. Most often, they share photos of the queues in front of the Pepco sales network, and there are opinions that this store has become this year’s Pandora, whose stores have had long queues in the past years just before Christmas.

What kind of gifts can we expect under the Christmas tree this year?

According to Jan Vetyška, most shoppers will traditionally order toys, but books, health and beauty products, and clothing and footwear are also very popular. Among the more expensive categories are popular mobile phones, jewelry, and watches or home appliances white goods. “Humorous comments on the net state that instead of colorful socks, this year people will buy patterned mouth protections for their loved ones, vitamins to support immunity, or herbal teas. However, most users are critical of coronavirus-related gifts, they do not want to spoil the atmosphere around the Christmas tree,” said Martina Maňhalová, a social media analyst at Newton Media. Many people active on social media prefer gifts in the form of vouchers and prefer to avoid holiday shopping due to the unclear travel situation. Exercise tools in response to lack of movement during lockdown are also often discussed gifts.

Relaxing holidays instead of consumption contest

All discussions are intertwined with the fact that Christmas is not just about buying Christmas presents. Users are reminded that this year’s situation should make us realize the true nature of Christmas, return to traditions, enjoy the holidays with the family at home and not be subject to the shopping frenzy as in previous years.

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