Black Friday: The best discounts at what cost?

23 November 2022

Black Friday: The best discounts at what cost?

Black Friday: The best discounts at what cost?

Another year, another sale. Black Friday is the biggest sale period for many brands and retail companies, and it is easy to understand why. It coincides with the start of the holiday season perfectly and acts as a transition into Christmas shopping. It is easy to see the appeal of such an event, arguably the best time of the year to buy all sorts of products at an extremely discounted price. However, we at NAE Vegan Shoes oppose the concept behind Black Friday. 

We do not subscribe to the culture of compulsive consumerism and fast fashion. We believe in abiding by the moral principles of sustainable fashion and eco-friendly shopping. This year like many previous years we are saying #NoBlackFriday

How it started 

Black Friday as a designated day for shopping, originated in the United States of America. The concept is not new and the use of the term ‘Black Friday’ can be traced as far back as the year  1896. According to the History channel, it was used to describe the crash of the U.S gold market. However, by the 1950s in Philadelphia, the police started using the term to describe the hectic shopping day right after Thanksgiving. Many of the officers had to work on that day, and dealt with the likes of shoplifters and overcrowded shopping centres. By the early 2000s, Black Friday had come to be a huge commercial event for many and over time it has moved online, even having a Monday dedicated to online sales called Cyber Monday. Black Friday has changed significantly since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, inevitably becoming a shopping event most people take part in online. 

The real consequences of Black Friday and why we say no

The appeal of Black Friday sales for both consumers and businesses is not lost on us. A small business for example can capitalise on the hype of Black Friday and drive traffic to its website. Many businesses need the exposure now more than ever, given the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic amongst many other ongoing crises. Holding Black Friday sales for some has been the only way to stay relevant and in business. Businesses can draw more customers in by having unique sales and by advertising it on social media. Of course for the customers, there is nothing better than buying products on mass reduction. 

For customers, Black Friday sales might be the best time to purchase items, especially with growing concerns over the cost of living globally. In the grander scheme of things, we believe Black Friday does more harm than good to small businesses, customers, and the environment in the long run. 

To make up for the high demand for goods on Black Friday weekend, factory workers, retail shop assistants, and delivery drivers to name a few work excruciatingly long hours to meet demand. For some companies to avoid getting into trouble for breaking workers' rights, they underrecord work shifts. Many workers accept these hours as they are given incentives such as an extra holiday day, or are promised shorter work shifts in the future. We believe this is very exploitative. 

As a business that caters to a niche market, we are concerned with how Black Friday puts small businesses and other niche businesses at risk. Some brands simply cannot keep up with the sale deals larger brands offer, and still make a profit. Also smaller brands cannot produce items fast enough to match the demands on Black Friday compared to bigger brands. 

We also believe Black Friday promotes unhealthy consumerist habits. People are led to believe they need more than they actually do and some of the discounts being offered can encourage excessive buying which is unsustainable both for the customer's wallet and for the environment. Excessive buying leads to massive returns. Oftentimes after Black Friday sales are over, many customers return large amounts of purchases realising they never really needed it. This is costly for the environment as more fuel and energy are spent transporting goods back to warehouses causing more greenhouse gases to be emitted and this is just from transportation alone. Many of the returned products end up in landfills due to companies not being able to keep the excesses. The unwanted products in the landfills end up incinerated which emit huge amounts of CO2 and other toxic gases. This dilemma is only made worse by the fact that most companies have moved their Black Friday sales strictly online. 

Striving for change

We as a vegan company, that promotes sustainability and animal-friendly products, are taking a stance against excessive buying and fast fashion. It is easy to fall into the pressures of Black Friday shopping especially when it comes to expensive items going on sale. However, even then, it is important to remember to buy consciously, and to consider shopping from brands that create ethical work conditions for workers and are mindful of the environment. 

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