Boycott Black Friday - a consumer frenzy
Black Friday lands on 26 November 2021 and over the course of the weekend UK shoppers are expected to spend a total of £9.4bn - a record high.
Finder research however suggests that the Brits who do participate will on average be spending £20 less on the sales this year (£275 compared to £295). The highest spenders live in London - average Black Friday sales planned spend in London in 2021 is £468, according to Statista.
Why should you avoid Black Friday?
There are many reasons to avoid the consumer frenzy that stretches from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.
Black Friday is bad for the environment
While thousands hit the streets or the web in pursuit of a bargain, it’s the planet that picks up the tab. The type of unsustainable consumption promoted on Black Friday puts a strain on resources and is devastating for our planet. The cheap goods peddled end up in landfill, often only a few months later.
Clothing and electronics will once again be among the most popular of the Black Friday purchases.
According to a 2019 Green Alliance report, 80% of electronics and clothing, plus the plastic packaging they are wrapped in, end up in landfill, incineration, or at best low-quality recycling sometimes after a very short life. (Read more on Amazon and their environmental impacts below).
Carbon emissions from UK online Black Friday sales are also estimated to be equivalent to 215 return flights between London and Sydney. According to a new report by money.co.uk, online shopping this Black Friday could release up to 386,243 tonnes of carbon through deliveries alone.
The 2021 Dirty Delivery report also found that while 17% of UK shoppers say they are unwilling to pay any additional money towards offsetting the carbon produced, Gen Z (18-23 year olds) are willing to pay more than any other age group to offset the carbon produced by their online purchases.
If it weren't for mega sales like Black Friday, companies might even come up with other solutions for stock that doesn't sell - including making less stock to begin with. Ethical Consumer Best Buy THTC (clothing company) says:
"We don't use Black Friday as an excuse to make a load of money by burning through dead stock. If something's not selling well, we carry it onto the following seasons. We try to only print what we know we're going to sell."
Are things actually cheaper on Black Friday?
What’s more, there is reason to believe that the sales aren’t as significant as the marketing frenzy would have us believe.
According to Which?, 98% of the discounts advertised on Black Friday were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months following the sales. Only 3 of the 119 products Which? tracked over the course of a year were at their cheapest price on Black Friday.
It can be harder for small companies to compete with the messaging
Most smaller companies can’t compete with the price gouging and marketing that bigger companies indulge in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
According to the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), 85% of independent retailers are refusing to participate in the Black Friday sales this year. Some of the independent retailers will be shutting down their websites for the day, or donating some profits from sales to tree planting - one thing they won't be doing is cutting prices.
The companies that are most likely to profit from slashed prices are giant corporations - often ones which have poor tax conduct such as those we discuss below.