Anti-Black Friday 2018: Retailers fighting mindless consumption

Black Friday is one of the biggest online trading days of the year, with large discounts encouraging consumers to spend big. Is this behaviour good for business or the environment? The anti-Black Friday movement thinks not.

While the majority of the industry are giving themselves a firm high five following another year of record-breaking sales, a new breed of retailers is emerging who have a completely different anti-Black Friday story to tell. Taking a firm stand against this period of over-consumption, some retailers are closing down both their eCommerce and store operations in a boycott of Black Friday.

Within eCommerce, the major focus has always been growth, with retailers becoming very accustomed to a world where year-on-year sales are always trending upwards. In order to maintain this trend, online retailers are discounting deeper, and for longer during the Cyber Weekend period in an attempt to “grow” their online businesses. The result is the entire month of November spent on-sale, with upward trending discounts encouraging consumers to spend heavily on items they may have otherwise done without. 

While this is great for the finance team, this behaviour shines a light on a growing dark side of society. Our relentless desire to buy things we don’t need. The environmental impact of this trend in overconsumption poses a significant threat to the planet, and so the anti-Black Friday movement will hopefully be the spark to a change in consumer behaviour. 

Below is a selection of some anti-Black Friday 2018 “deals”!

1. Patagonia: Anti-Black Friday founders

It’s no surprise that one of the founders of this anti-Black Friday movement is Patagonia, with their continued fight to make their business a vehicle for good becoming a considerable influence on many emerging brands. A 2011 “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign, and more recently donating 100% of 2016 Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organisations, are just a few examples of Patagonia continued fight towards an anti-Black Friday movement.

2018 saw a muted response from Patagonia, with Black Friday coming and going with zero interaction, possibly due to their attention being firmly fixed on giving away the $10 million USD tax break they received from the Trump government. As a pioneer of this movement, Patagonia may feel they have now inspired a new generation of companies to fight against this period of over-consumption.

“Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis. It is pure evil.”

Yvon Chouinard, Founder Patagonia

2. Noah Clothing: New breed, strong mindless consumption message

Noah Clothing, a New York-based men’s clothing brand, seek to take a stand against many of the appalling practices of the fashion industry. Noah takes clear inspiration from the Patagonia model, not only creating an ethically-minded product, but also speaking out loudly on issues, and donating a percentage of profits to good causes.

With a rapidly growing following in the uber-trendy streetwear/high fashion world, Noah has a real platform to influence the future generations of the clothing industry. For Anti-Black Friday 2018, Noah closed both their online store and flagship NYC store, with messages being sent out via Instagram to over two hundred thousand people to explain their reasoning. 

“Mindless consumption will be the end of us all”

Noah NYC

3. Christopher Raeburn: Taking sustainability mainstream

Whilst the Raeburn brand may not be a well-known high street name, as the recently appointed Global Creative Director of Timberland, Christopher Raeburn now has the potential to influence decision making at one of the biggest footwear brands in the world.  

Christopher Raeburn Black Friday 2018 Instagram Post
Christopher Raeburn Black Friday 2018 Instagram Post

For Anti-Black Friday 2018, both the online store and London pop-up were closed by Christopher Raeburn, with the brand encouraging its following to think twice about any Black Friday purchases.

“We simply cannot continue to consume the way we do. We need to start making more considered choices; buying less but better.”

Christopher Raeburn, Global Creative Director, Timberland

4. Everlane: Make Black Friday for good

US retailer Everlane is focusing their attention on becoming the leaders in transparent retailing. By creating clothing that is built to last through ethical processes, a key unique difference for Everlane is their aim of complete transparency of both the cost and impact of their supply chain.

Whilst Everlane was still trading through the Cyber Weekend period, they took a more moderate approach to the anti-Black Friday movement. In collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation, Everlane committed to cleaning up one pound of beach plastic for every sale processed, culminating in 10 tons of plastic being cleaned up from beaches.

Everlane Black Friday 2018 Instagram Post
Everlane Black Friday 2018 Instagram Post

Know of any other anti-Black Friday campaigns? We’d love to hear about them so drop a comment below.

Further reading: Alternative Black Friday 2019: Ideas for a new approach. Read More

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