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Boycott Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Here we examine reasons to boycott Black Friday, the tax-avoiding activities of companies most likely to profit from the sales, ways to protest against Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and other ethical alternative events you can support instead.

Why Boycott Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Boycott Black Friday for the planet

The carbon cost of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is high. Last year's sales from online shopping alone were predicted to release the carbon equivalent of 215 flights between London and Sydney (390,000 tonnes carbon).

Clothing and electronics are among the most popular Black Friday purchases.

According to a 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 after a very short life.

We are not cutting consumption fast enough to avoid climate meltdown. When it comes to the impact of consumer goods on the planet, repairing, choosing second-hand, and when necessary buying from more sustainable brands is the way to help close the climate gap.

Black Friday is taking us in the opposite direction of where we need to be heading, encouraging the purchase of brand new things we probably don’t even need.

Watch our Boycott Black Friday video

Doesn’t Black Friday reduce the amount of stock sent to landfill?

Some people argue that Black Friday helps companies shift old stock that isn’t selling, so that it doesn’t end up in landfill (for example, few people want to buy a swimsuit in November, but at half price it could be more appealing.)

What would really be good for the environment would be for clothing companies to stop making more stock than they can realistically sell at full price, with the back-up plan of flogging it all at a discount on Black Friday.

Companies might come up with other solutions for the problem of old stock - 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."

Boycott Black Friday because of Amazon

Amazon is largely credited for the rise of Black Friday in the UK, after it started promoting the event here in 2010.

Ethical Consumer has called for a boycott of Amazon since 2012, in response to its prolific tax avoidance. Fair Tax Mark named Amazon as having “the poorest tax conduct” of the six major tech companies in 2019 - a big deal in a sector known for tax avoidance.

Amazon UK shifts lots of its money into a subsidiary in the well-known tax haven of Luxembourg, meaning that it is able to get away with paying little or no tax. Unite the Union’s August 2021 report found that in 2019 Amazon may have shifted up to £8.2 billion from the UK to Luxembourg. In 2017, almost 75% of Amazon’s UK sales were registered through the Luxembourg subsidiary.

Amazon scores 0 in our shopping guides and we dedicated an entire issue of our magazine to Amazon alternatives last year to help people find ways to avoid using it.

What is the #MakeAmazonPay campaign?

Tax isn’t the only problem with Amazon – it’s also under fire for issues around workers’ rights, union busting, and its carbon impacts.

The Make Amazon Pay coalition launched in November 2020 and a broad range of unions and civil society organisations have joined worldwide, including Greenpeace, Tax Justice Network, Amazon Workers International and Ethical Consumer.

Black Friday 2021 witnessed strikes, protests and solidarity actions across Amazon’s transcontinental supply chain, with workers in multiple countries striking in large numbers at the same time for the first time.

This is the third year that Make Amazon Pay has organised a global day of action on Black Friday, and it says

“we are rising up all around the world on Black Friday, 25 November 2022 to turn it into Make Amazon Pay day.”

Campaigners in over 30 countries will be taking action. You can use the Make Amazon Pay website to view protests and events taking place.

You can also let the company know you're boycotting it by cancelling your Amazon Prime subscription on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Take action against Amazon this Black Friday

Consumers can take a variety of actions on Black Friday (25th November) and Cyber Monday (28th November), from sharing campaign posts on social media as well as action with their wallets. Here are some ideas:

1. Don’t buy anything

Join the boycott by refusing to buy anything from the sales – and tell friends, family, social media followers, and even local media and your MP the reasons why.

2. Share our template social media post

You could use our template Tweet above, or if you're avoiding Twitter since the takeover, share this sentence on any of your social media platforms

"I'm joining the Amazon boycott this Black Friday! #BoycottBlackFriday #MakeAmazonPay"

3. Take part in Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing Day has run on the same day as Black Friday since 1997. According to its website Buy Nothing Day is “a 24 hour detox from consumerism and an opportunity for you to tune into the impact we have on the environment through shopping ... and the best thing is - IT'S FREE!!!”

4. Take part in Green Friday

Join others in creating Green Friday by turning off the computer and mobile devices, and go outside instead. Have fun in nature, take a walk at lunchtime, or meet up with friends or relatives in a local park. Spending time outdoors can benefit our mental health as well, so it's a win for our health and our wallet!

Make Amazon Pay logo

Boycott Black Friday to support small businesses

It’s impossible for most small companies to offer discounts of the same size as larger companies, and promote them as heavily too.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) takes a firm stance against the event. BIRA states that 85% of independent retailers refused to participate in the Black Friday sales last year. Many smaller companies even shut down their websites for the day in protest.

Clothing brand THTC also doesn't lower its prices for Black Friday. In previous years it has doubled the price of its products with the extra money going towards charitable causes, and planted a tree with every sale made on Black Friday.

Karma Drinks, a Best Buy in our soft drinks guide, has previously raised its prices by £5 throughout the sales period, with the money going to charity.

Some big companies also boycott the sales, such as Patagonia. In 2016 Patagonia donated 100% of sales on Black Friday to grassroots environmental organisations.

Cost of living crisis – and, are things cheaper on Black Friday anyway?

We are in the midst of a cost of living crisis so for many people it’s essential to save money where we can. 

But the Black Friday sales might not be the best way to do it. 

Which? did an investigation to find out whether Black Friday sales were larger than other sales throughout the year. It found that 98% of discounts advertised on Black Friday were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months following the sales. 

We’ve been writing a series of articles to help people shop ethically on a budget. This includes articles on affordable ethical clothing, repairing, upcycling and buying second-hand, buying refurbished and second-hand tech, and helping clothing last longer

We’re also working to add relevant pricing and cost of living information to all of our shopping guides.

Which companies will profit from Black Friday?

Amazon will be cashing in on the sales (see above for more information about Amazon). Here we examine the ethics of other tax-avoiding companies that are partaking in the sales this year.


Apple scores our worst rating for Tax Conduct, with subsidiaries in the following tax havens: Hong Kong, Ireland, Jersey, Netherlands, Nevada (US), Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan.

Its highest paid director received £82m in compensation in 2021, meaning it lost a whole mark under our ratings system for Excessive Director’s Pay.

Read more about Apple.


Yet another worst rating for Tax Conduct was received by Boohoo, owner of brands including boohoo, boohooMAN, PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal, MissPap, Karen Millen and Coast. It’s incorporated in tax haven Jersey despite most of its operations being on the UK mainland and its main offices being in Manchester.

Boohoo claims it has no tax advantage from these arrangements telling us “Boohoo Group plc and all its UK subsidiaries are registered for UK tax and pay UK taxes on all profits. There is no tax benefit to the group or any individual company from being registered in Jersey.”

However, the company did not give a clear explanation of why its ultimate parent company was based in Jersey.

Four of Boohoo’s directors were paid over £1m for the year ended February 2021.

Read more about Boohoo.


eBay fares better on our rankings than Amazon, receiving an Ethiscore of 5.5.

However it too receives a worst Ethical Consumer rating for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies, as it has several holding companies in jurisdictions considered to be tax havens by Ethical Consumer.

In 2020 seven of eBay’s executives received over £1m in compensation - one lucky executive received a total of £30,871,000.

Read more about eBay and see how it compares in our guide to online retailers.


Sony Corporation scored a worst Tax Conduct rating due to having high risk holding companies in the well-known tax havens of Bermuda, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Nevada (US) and Switzerland.

Read more about Sony Corporation.

Will we ever see the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

This year over the course of the weekend shoppers are expected to spend between £4bn and £9bn according to Statista and Finder.

Gen Z and millennials are most likely to spend. Unfortunately it looks like there’s still a lot of life in Black Friday and Cyber Monday.