Every day, the Yandex.Maps app responds to more than a million search queries made in Russia. Nearly half of them are searches for various organizations: where the nearest ATM or produce stand is? what’s the fastest route to the civil records office? where a given market? church, or museum is located, etc? By looking at how search demand for different organizations fluctuates over the course of the year, one can get a sense of how user interests change with the seasons. We studied search queries from Russia’s “millionaire cities” in 2017, and figured out which types of organizations garner the most interest each month.
During the first few days of the New Years holiday break, people typically do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have time for. For example, they go to the banya (bath house), or they visit a museum. The percent of users searching for museums is always highest during federal holidays. In addition to during the New Years holidays and on Museum Night (a yearly event held in May), the most searches for museums occur on February 23 (Defender of the Fatherland Day), during the May holidays, and on National Unity Day (Nov 4).
One of the most significant search categories for January is sporting goods stores and fitness clubs. As is the case in the US, people decide to start a new life following the holidays. Ski resorts and skating rinks also take off in popularity. There are also a lot of searches for cinemas and theaters. The percent of users searching for churches also increases because Orthodox Russians celebrate Christmas and Epiphany in January.
In February, the most noticeable bursts in search interests are correlated with the Valentine’s Day and Defender of the Fatherland holidays. Valentine’s Day is one of the main business days of the year for jewelry stores and sex shops.
Interest in flower shops, cafes and restaurants peaks for the year on International Women’s Day (May 8). The dirt and slush on the streets in March also leads people to search for car washes. Drivers start changing out their winter tires in March, but not everyone trusts spring to deliver on the weather front, so it’s not surprising that searches for tire repairs hold strong through the beginning of May.
In April (or sometimes May), searches for churches reach their yearly maximum thanks to Easter. April also sets off the wedding season. There is a lull in May, however. The graph clearly shows that Russians still believe in the old superstition about “getting married in May and then toiling your whole life”!
You could say that summer on Yandex.Maps starts in May. In any case, interest in search categories that are associated with summer (such as parks) already starts to increase during that month. In parallel with that, the percent of users searching for fast food increases as people spend more time outside and want to grab something to eat on the go. Another example of a May interest category is zoos: people either count on animals coming out of their winter hibernation or feel like it’s time to emerge back out into the light themselves.
In June and July, the most significant search categories consist of organizations that fulfill users’ travel or vacation needs: travel agencies, resorts, airports, and train/bus stations.
In September, the percent of users searching for universities increases significantly. College freshmen and upperclassmen in high school preparing for college start thinking about what lies ahead. In parallel with this, interest in school-supply and book stores shoots up: people still need to buy tons of textbooks, notebooks, and planners. The theater and concert season also begins and people start searching on Yandex.Maps for routes to theaters, concert halls, symphony halls, and conservatories. In September and October, everyone seems to catch a cold and people search more frequently for pharmacies. In November, peoples’ interest in tax services increases as the deadline for paying property taxes approaches. During late autumn, the roads tend to get pretty dirty again and car washes appear among the top categories.
And it’s winter again
In December, people continue grappling with their taxes and start getting ready for the holidays. Yandex.Market data, by the way, also displays a clear growth trend in customer activity during this period.
Jewelry stores, book stores, and sex shops also regain their popularity. On the 31st, the percent of users searching for wine stores spikes and, on the following day, this is followed by those searching for bars and pharmacies. But it is hardly the case that everyone just wants to continue the party or cure their hangover. In actuality, the number of users who search for bars or pharmacies doesn’t change radically, it’s just that the number of searches for everything else decreases on the first of the year, so the percent of searches represented by those two categories rises sharply.