Boycott Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019

Are you boycotting Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2019? Here's why you should and what some companies are doing differently.

This year Black Friday takes place on Friday November 29th and Cyber Monday on Monday December 2nd. Shoppers are expected to spend £7 billion in Britain alone on these two days. In 2018, 36% of consumers planned to take advantage of price slashes but this year the figure has risen dramatically with 62% of consumers planning to participate in Black Friday sales on November 29th. Pre-sales have already kicked off as companies like Amazon have decided to start slashing prices a week early.

However, while thousands hit the high streets or the web in pursuit of a bargain, it’s the planet that picks up the tab. This type of unsustainable consumption often puts a strain on resources and is devastating for our planet, with cheap goods ending up in landfill only a few months later, working appliances and devices replaced and carbon emission rising with every click.

Where are shoppers spending their money?

In recent years, shoppers have ditched the high street and now pick up their deals online. However, as well as these bargains landing on our doorsteps wrapped in a whole load of plastic and other unnecessary packaging, the companies themselves are causing damage to our societies and planet.

Many tax-avoiding companies reap huge profits from Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The big winner form Black Friday 2019 is likely to be Amazon, who had a 26% share of the market in 2018. It's a distant second place for eBay who had less than 10% of total web sales occurring on their site.

Image: Amazon Warehouse

Most people buy technology products on Black Friday. Last year Apple’s iPhone XR and Sony’s Playstation 4 were among the most searched for items on Google. This means that UK retailer Currys PC world is likely to do well again this year.

Clothing and fashion related items are the second most purchased group of products so fast fashion outlets such as Missguided are also likely to do well.

Below you can find out more about the ethics of those companies that are set to cash-in on Black Friday 2019.

These are the companies that profit the most from Black Friday:

Amazon

Amazon has been the target of a boycott call from us since 2012 over its tax avoidance.

Last year the company’s corporation tax bill almost halved to £4.5m, despite pre-tax profits at its UK business tripling from £24m in 2016 to £72m. However, this profit is only from Amazon UK Services, the company’s warehouse and logistics operation and doesn’t include UK sales which are still routed through Luxembourg to avoid paying any tax on them in the UK.

The founder of the company, Jeff Bezos, has also been slated for his own earnings and he’s now reported to be worth $108.6billion, making him one of the richest men on the planet.

In addition to tax avoidance, the company he runs has also been criticised for its attitude to corporate responsibility. On our ranking system, the company scores a worst rating for all of its policies, from environmental reporting to supply chain management, and has an Ethiscore of 0.

Read more about Amazon >

eBay

Online shopping platform eBay scores a more respectable 7.5 on our Ethiscore. However it too receives a worst Ethical Consumer rating for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies, as it has two holding company subsidiaries in the low tax jurisdiction of Switzerland and is registered in Delaware despite its head office being in California.

The company also scores a worst rating for our supply chain management ranking and for excessive directors remuneration with the highest-paid executive, Devin N. Wenig, President and Chief Executive Officer, receiving $17,670,591 in 2017.

Read more about eBay >

Apple

Apple has a slightly lower Ethiscore of 6 and its ethical stance is more mixed. They score badly for their likely use of tax avoidance strategies and CEO Tim Cook earned an excessive $26,700,660 in 2018. However they do much better on a number of other ethical policies.

For example, they score a best rating for both our toxic chemicals policy and our conflict minerals policy. It also scores well in the Greenpeace 'Clicking Clean' report which rates companies on their approach to building a green internet based on renewable energy use.

However, the company has been repeatedly criticised for workers' rights violations in its mobile phone supply chain especially due to its relationship with the infamous Foxconn factories in China that came to the world's attention in 2017. These involved a number of suicides amongst its often overworked and underpaid staff.

Read more about Apple >

Sony

Sony scores 6.5 on our ranking system putting them just ahead of Apple. Like Apple, they also score a worst rating for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies and for excessive executive pay (although this is a much lower £3million in 2018).
The company also scores well for its conflict minerals policy and for its environmental reporting.

Read more about Sony >

Currys PC world

Currys PC World is a brand belonging to UK company Dixons Carphone Warehouse. The company scores a middling Ethiscore of 8 out of 14. However, the company scores badly for most of its policies including supply chain management and conflict minerals, both of which are vital in the technology sector where workers' rights abuses are rife. It also scores a worst rating for its likely use of tax avoidance strategies. Its Ethiscore remains relatively high as it has escaped any direct criticism from campaigners independently monitoring their supply chains.

Read more about Currys PC World >
 

Missguided

Last year Missguided was selling jumpers and sweatshirts for as little as £12 on Black Friday. The company is owned by Nakai Investments which is based in the British Virgin Islands, a known tax haven and scores a worst rating for the likely use of tax havens.

The company scores a middle rating for its cotton and supply chain ratings and worst for its other policies including environmental reporting and toxics policies.

Read more about Missguided >

Backlash against Black Friday

First off, you might want to check out our ‘shopping without Amazon’ series which outlines our boycott and lists alternative ethical retailers to help you avoid Amazon this Black Friday and beyond.

It's almost been nine years since Black Friday spread to the UK, and amidst growing focus on the climate, criticism of the commercial event is growing stronger.

text: make friday green again boycott black friday

The Guardian recently presented a sceptical view of Black Friday 'deals', warning consumers not to be tempted into participation by the 'frenzy of marketing'.

Climate movement Fridays for Future is holding their next Global Climate Strike on the 29th of November, which is the same day as Black Friday.

Cities all over the globe will join to demonstrate the severity of the climate and propel climate activism. The movement hasn't revealed that this is an intentional move, but by highlighting climate awareness on a day of mass consumption they are making a clear statement.

In France backlash against Black Friday has really taken hold. Led by French clothing brand FAGUO, more than 450 brands have formed the 'Make Friday Green Again' collective and decided not to take part in Black Friday.

FAGUO has published a post on Instagram in which they 'encourage everyone to use this Friday, November 29th to sort, resell and recycle the superfluous goods they have in order to know what they really need'.

Here are just a few of the UK companies that are doing something different on Black Friday:

Patagonia

Historically speaking, Patagonia doesn't participate in Black Friday. Its biggest stand against the winter shopping event was in 2016 when the B-Corp donated 100% of sales on that day to grassroots environmental organisations. The feat went viral and Patagonia was able to make $10 million in sales.

This year, Patagonia is encouraging customers to donate to one of 1,000 non-profit environmental groups through its Patagonia Action Works initiative. The brand will match the donations made from 29 November (Black Friday) until 31 December 2019. They will only stop matching donations when they've reached a maximum spend of $10,000,000 USD. This is an opportunity to give a meaningful gift without purchasing yet another another needless item.

THTC

Our ethical clothes shop and Best Buy company THTC is doing an anti-Black Friday campaign in which they're giving 30% of all their profits from Black Friday sales straight to Refugee Community Kitchen.

Ethical Superstore

Ethical Superstore is sidelining Black Friday for Food Bank Friday. From Monday 22nd November to midnight on Monday 2nd December they will be offering 20% off everything in their store plus making a donation directly from their stock to the Newcastle West End Foodbank with every order over £30. Ethical Superstore stocks several of our Best Buys on their website, so doing a shop with them is a great alternative to Amazon that will really make a difference.

Along with buying from independent and local or ethical businesses on Black Friday, shoppers can also boycott the event and vow to buy nothing on the 29th November. If you feel like you need to buy something over the weekend, consider smaller ethical businesses, like the ones featured in our ethical online retailers guide, which unlike eBay, Amazon and Apple are more likely to be paying their fair share of tax.

We ask that our readers join us in the Global Climate Strike and help #MakeFridayGreenAgain.