The first Black Friday held during a pandemic has arrived. Like many things in 2020, the popular retail bonanza is being hosted with many changes to the normal functioning of the event. Several surfaces adopted Black Week or Cyber November, by offering up their Black Friday deals way sooner than November 27. This comes as an effort to capture consumer demand, disperse mass gatherings, and enhance virtual shopping.
The world event is considered the inaugural season of Christmas shopping with significant sales that appeal to mass commerce. NAE Vegan Shoes has always preferred to make an opposite statement regarding Black Friday. #NoBlackFriday represents our resistance to the culture of consumerism and fast fashion, both undeniably part of the occasion. After all, do we really need Black Friday?
THE ORIGINS: FROM CRISIS TO EXCESS
The event originated in the United States quickly spread to the rest of the world. It was in the years 2000s that the phenomenon assumed itself as the annual day with the highest volume of purchases. The name also became official during this era, associated with extreme sales and held one day after Thanksgiving.
But the true story behind the term "Black Friday" has remote origins, way further than the beginning of the XXI century. History Channel explains that the term was first used on September 24, 1869, linked with a Wall Street stock market crash. The two ruthless stockholders Jay Gould and Jim Fisk joined forces to buy as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. The plan ended up failing and the stock market went into free-fall and bankrupted everyone, from the smallest farmers to the powerful Wall-Street barons.
BLACK FRIDAY; BLACK PANDEMIC
Interestingly, the origin of the term is associated with a financial crash, which is the opposite to the abundance that Black Friday represents today. This year, Black Friday arrives during another economic recession - this time, of very different origin and consequences from the crash of 1869. The year of 2020 marks the first Black Friday held during a global pandemic.
We witnessed the closing of local business all around the world and a paralysed economic activity. Unemployment levels have skyrocketed and purchasing power has declined dramatically. We might think that Black Friday then emerges as a positive stir in the waters of the world economy. However, it is fallacious to fall into this narrative.
There are already enough people with credit card debts for things they do not need, simply because they are not enlightened about buying consciously. Also, the drastic and temporary drop in prices only creates more discrepancies within the sectors that join Black Friday, resulting in an unbalanced concentration of profits.
And whatever economic factor we present, each one of them gains special prominence in the context of the financial crisis we are living. The biggest retail companies that benefit from Black Friday do not share this privilege with the small local businesses - those that have been severally affected by the negative economic cycle of the pandemic.
The economic outgrowth of Covid-19 arrived with an increasing sanitary concern. Black Friday as we know it ends up bringing everything we don't need at the moment: long lines; hundreds of people packed into a store; interactions between employees and customers; shopping mall gatherings and even outbreaks of violence. Everything and more in shopping malls and other close spaces, which only increases the risk of Covid-19 contagion. Therefore, it was already expected that the biggest bet is virtual shopping, besides adapting the event to the required sanitary measures.
This pandemic has made us advance light-years in digital literacy. 2020 brings more unique issues with so many people working from home during the pandemic. If we are working more on the internet; this is also the platform where we are buying the most. There is a strong appeal for customers to opt for e-Commerce during this Black Friday. However, this reality comes with plenty cybersecurity risks. It is predicted that most purchases are centered online this year - and so as online scams and thefts. We all love a good business offer, but it is extremely important to be well informed and safe before navigating online commerce.
WHY DO WE SAY #NOBLACKFRIDAY?
Black Friday's consumerist impetus appeals to the superfluous and impulsive buying of items that are, many times, unnecessary. The concept is totally against what sustainable commerce and circular fashion teach us. Black Friday epitomizes the business model of quick production, consumption, and disposal. Just like fast fashion, based on the idea of seasonal and volatile trends.
Fast fashion brands produce clothes so they go out of style, lose shape, or fall apart quickly. Its narrative tells us that following the trends is the only way to remain fashionable, which leads the consumer to buy new clothes frequently. These companies only get richer by keeping this twisted cycle going. Black Friday ends up advocating this consumer mentality, by provoking a drastic increase in demand after a general decrease in prices. And if it increases consumer demand; it will also have to increase the supply.
Creating a high supply leads to mass production, which accentuates many other problems along the way: ethical work conditions are more likely to be violated; there's an increase of waste in landfills that pollute the air we breathe; animal exploitation is intensified to meet production deadlines.
Source: Edward Howell\Unsplash
Last year, we shared some tips to anyone who was feeling overwhelmed with Black Friday’s “pressure-to-buy”. Not giving in to compulsive consumerism and adhering to more sustainable or solidarity campaigns is the first step. Buying only what we need is one of the countless ways to apply minimalism in our lives. The goal should never be to end shopping but to raise awareness to those around regarding sustainable and viable trade practices for all.
Shall we start purchasing consciously and safely?