Saturday, 19 January 2013

Twitter and Foursquare predicted UK economic slowdown

My prediction from December 24 based on my tracking to Twitter and Foursquare in London and Mall of America that the UK would experience a poor holiday shopping season, and that it could be so bad as to slip back in to recession has been confirmed, but traditional methods took a month longer than my real-time analysis based on social media associated with location.


 I was able to Foursquare and Twitter predictive ability for an economy.  I conducted the following study.

A twitter trending line for central London, including shopping area, my assumption in this analysis is that a correlation between foot traffic, tweeting levels and retail sales (still untested premise).  If this assumptions are correct I see no sign to indicate a rise in consumer traffic in central London.

I created a set of trackers listing to all the tweets and Foursquare trending at Mall in America in the United States and High Street London around Oxford Street.  I watched both spots closely,  for the week running up to Christmas, tracking both levels of geo-tagged social media usage, to get a measure a measure of traffic compared to normal levels, but also reading thousands of tweets as a measure of sentiment.

These conclusion soon became obvious:
  • London's High Street shopping area, around Oxford Street, was not seeing elevated foot traffic.  Shopping were not out on the streets in extremely elevated levels.
  • Consumer sentiment in London was far more dampened than at Mall of America, were people were openly discussing busy shopping and tweeting about purchases constantly.
So in real time, before Christmas Day, I was able to confidently predict that December would be a weak retail month in the UK.  I was not able to assign a precise number at how weak, but the crowds were simply not there and the sentiment was not there.

Based on this work I am now working to develop my extensive and rigorous models I hope can provide policy makers and analysts real times 'heads up' on the state of the economy in specific places.

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