Boycott Black Friday
Where are the profits from Black Friday really going?
Images of people scrambling, pushing and even fighting to discover the best bargains have become commonplace on our TV screens every Black Friday.
Little attention has been paid to the companies behind the event which have raked in huge profits, often at the expense of injured customers.
Photo Credit: Flickr
Below we take a closer look at some of those reaping in huge revenues on Black Friday and find that ethics are often an afterthought.
So, we ask this Black Friday, where is consumers’ hard earned cash really going?
Amazon, a US-based company, is considered to have brought this shopping frenzy to the UK in 2010. During Black Friday 2014, Amazon achieved its busiest sales day to date with 5.5 million items ordered at a rate of 64 items per second.
Ethical Consumer has a campaign against Amazon for its consistent use of tax avoidance. In 2014, Amazon paid just 11.9 million in corporate taxes on sales of £5.3bn, a rate of less than 0.3%.
Amazon has recently suffered a number of other scandals, in particular the way it treats its workers, both in its Seattle offices and in its supply chain.
Read our feature on Amazon and Tax which questions its recent declaration that it will start paying a fairer share of tax.
The GAME website has already begun advertising Black Friday deals which confirms it will be participating in this year's sales race. This news seems surprising as GAME profits slumped as a result of Black Friday in 2014. Competitor prices put pressure on GAME to sell a number of top quality games at a lower price.
GAME went into administration in 2012 and was bought out my Duodi Investments SARL. This company is registered in Luxembourg despite GAME being a UK company that trades only in the UK. This suggests that profits from Black Friday may head straight to Luxembourg, dodging HMRC.
In 2014, Currys had to implement a queuing system online to deal with the thousands of online shoppers searching for sales and subsequently crashing its website.
After record sales last year, Chief executive of Currys, Seb James, claimed: “I think it could be here forever. It's a good promotional item and we are planning next year now”.
Currys parent company (Dixons) has recently merged with the Carephone Warehouse and the ultimate holding company is now known as Dixons Carphone. Dixons has scored a worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies when we rated them last year and have subsidiaries in the tax havens of Gibralta and the Isle of Man.
The company also scored worst for environmental reporting and supply chain management. We hope that the new company will perform better in the coming years as it restructures.
Like many retailers, Ebay plan to take advantage of Black Friday and this monday marked the beginning of 8 days of discounts. Last year, Ebay said its Black Friday numbers were up by 6.97% compared to 2013.
Ebay is incorporated in Delaware an infamous tax secrecy jurisdiction. The company also has subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Singapore, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands which all feature on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list.
Backlash against Black Friday
A backlash against Black Friday and Cyber Monday has seen MPs, such as Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, urge British retailers to boycott Black Friday because of the strain it causes on police resources.
ASDA recently announced that it would not be using Black Friday as a key sales event this year. ASDA has always been keen to take advantage of the period and last year had already taken £2 million in sales by mid afternoon. It is thought likely that the negative attention received after chaos at the Wembley ASDA store in 2014, which was captured by TV cameras, has had an impact on this decision.
Many consumers are now also turning their backs on the frenzied sales. For instance the alternative 'Buy Nothing Day' (November 27) now falls on the same day as Black Friday and challenges the over consumption that Black Friday has encouraged.
‘Buy Nothing Day’, which originated in Canada in the mid 90's, has been re-invigorated in recent years as a response to Black Friday with campaigners using the #Shoplesslivemore on twitter.
We agree that Black Friday 'sucks the life out of small business, who cannot compete'. Therefore if you feel the urge to spend some cash then consider more ethical online retailers which, unlike Ebay, Amazon and Game, are more likely to be paying their fair share of tax.
Avoid Amazon this Christmas. Read our ethical alternative retailers.