Most retailers and online sellers prepare for Black Friday to kick-start their holiday season sales, while others participate in a Boycott Black Friday movement and closed their online shops and stores.
One day doesn’t make or break an entire holiday shopping season, having a good Black Friday sales day is always a comforting feeling for retailers, online or traditional brick-and-mortar.
But there has also been increased criticism of Black Friday. With the deep discounts and hype, critics point to the biggest shopping days of the year as a day that encourages mass consumerism and waste.
For years, Black Friday was an American shopping day falling on the day after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November).
Traditionally, families traveled to gather on Thanksgiving, often leading many to go shopping for Christmas gifts the next day. It was a perfect time to go out and buy gifts for close and distant family.
Retailers saw this as an opportunity to drive traffic to their stores by offering highly discounted items, often as loss leaders in limited supply.
Over the years, it became common for larger retailers to open their doors at midnight (or even earlier) with lines of shoppers waiting for hours, ready to snap up one of the deals.
Once shoppers were in the store, they likely would buy other items, making the losses of a few highly discounted items an overall very profitable marketing gimmick for the retailer.
In addition, Christmas-themed Thanksgiving Day parades, such as the famous Macy’s parade in Manhattan, brought a sense of the start of the holiday season as well.
Therefore, the unique timing of Black Friday being the day after Thanksgiving is truly an American tradition representing the “official” start of the holiday shopping season.
But as holiday shopping began moving online — and in many ways thanks to the growth of Amazon bringing attention to Black Friday internationally — the Friday has become a big shopping day in many other countries, especially in Europe.
Today, retailers and online sellers prepare for Black Friday months in advance to ensure they have inventory and marketing in place to bring shoppers to their stores, online and offline.
In some ways, shoppers have been conditioned that Black Friday has the best deals of the season, and anything that looks like a steal, they snap up.
But that is where the criticism comes in. Are consumers buying products or deals? What does this do to our increased environmental awareness, especially in the fashion industry? An industry already under fire for being a large contributor of waste.
Some Fashion Retailers and Brands Boycott Black Friday
While there have been calls before for consumers to boycott Black Friday for these reasons, this year, a number of environmentally conscious fashion brands are taking a stand by being closed on Black Friday.
RÆBURN, a British fashion label that says it is changing the world through responsible design, closed its online store on Black Friday.
“Today RÆBURN stand[s] alongside a wealth of great brands who are saying NO to Black Friday,” the company announced on LinkedIn.
“In our case — the #RAEBURN online store has been disabled and we have transformed our Marshall Street location into a ReCommerce centre in collaboration with our long standing circularity partner, RESPONSIBLE, helping clothes stay in circulation for longer.”
FREITAG, a Swiss bag maker who became famous for its bags made from used truck tarps, closed its online store and is redirecting users to the company’s S.W.A.P. bag exchange platform.
“Short-tempered buying binges and sales battles: FREITAG considers Black Friday neither smart nor sustainable,” the company said on LinkedIn.
“And because saying «no» to something is more fun when you aren’t alone, we joined forces with like-minded brands to lend more weight to the demand for more sustainability and a circular economy.”
ASKET, a Swedish apparel brand with a mission to slow down the fashion industry by changing the way goods are manufactured, marketed, and consumed also closed its online store.
“Today, you won’t be able to buy any new clothes from us. It’s our way of taking a firm stance against a day, that in our minds, only serves to encourage hyper-consumption,” the company said on LinkedIn.
“Instead we encourage you to make the most out of the pieces you already own. It’s a seemingly simple idea but the act of extending a garment’s lifetime helps to slow down consumption, reduces waste and in turn lowers the apparel industry’s environmental impact.”
The action is not limited to just these three brands. There are other brands and retailers that boycott Black Friday in one way or another.
Is this a growing movement or a clever marketing strategy by environmentally conscious companies?
Certainly, the issues being raised are very valid, and consumers need to look at their shopping habits.
Online marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, OfferUp, SidelineSwap, DePop and BackMarket provide an easy way to extend the life of products instead of just throwing them in the trash.
Poshmark is taking a small stance against Black Friday consumerism by launching Secondhand Sunday this year.
It’s not just about making fashion and accessories more sustainable, but also electronics, sports gear, car parts, and many other categories.
Environmentally conscious brands are leading the way, but they are also slowly dragging traditional retailers along.
Just a few weeks ago, national sporting goods retailer DICK’s invested in SidelineSwap, an online marketplace where athletes sell used sports gear.
The Boycott Black Friday movement may be small and to some degree helps participating brands and retailers promote their environmentally friendly business models, they are making a statement, one that consumers need to think about embracing, not just on Black Friday, but every day.
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