Black Friday is a staple date of the retail calendar. In the UK, before 2010, consumers expected to pay a premium for goods in the run-up to the festive season. However, since the first Black Friday event by Amazon the shopping phenomena has grown exponentially with estimates suggesting that nearly £6 billion will be spent on this one day alone in 2020.
And while it may feel good to get something you’ve wanted for ages at a great price, or get your present shopping sorted for less than you expected, Black Friday does come with a hefty cost.
It leads to excessive consumption
One of the issues with Black Friday is that it creates a psychological response to consume.
Advertising, social media and the press tell us there are “amazing deals” to be had along with lists of shops have “the best” bargains. As a result, we often end up buying more than we need in the ensuing mania.
To meet the increase in demand manufacturing is ramped up and, as a byproduct, so is the pollution from running industrial processes.
And finally, in a rush to make space for our new purchases, the average consumer will often find themselves throwing away perfectly good items. In fact, many of the items bought around this time end up unused, leading to additional waste in landfills. To put it into a bit of a perspective, the US-based Council for Textile Recycling shared figures that the average American throws away over 30kg of textiles each year. When you equate that by the population of America, that is 22,000,000 tonnes for just one country.
It’s bad for your health
We’ve all seen the images on the news of overzealous shoppers en masse in supermarkets on the big day and it’s easy to believe that many of these people end up injured in the mad crush. However, there are also health implications for those who avoid the crowds and choose to partake online.
Fear of Missing Out (aka FOMO), leads many people to suffer from anxiety and the dreaded comparison culture feeling. Add to that stress from overstretching financially in the pursuit of a good deal, it’s feasible that many people could end up in a cycle of debt and then depression due to purchasing items.
It’s unfair to independents
Lastly, the big winners of Black Friday are not the individuals who get the bargains. The victors are often the big corporate companies that have cash and resources to maximise on the season. These businesses are often able to slash prices to allow for minuscule profit margins, continuing to increase their dominance of the market.
These drastic discounts often mean that small businesses miss out as a result. Many feel an obligation to join in the rush to discount by offering consumers low-low prices. Others are still undercut by larger companies, even if they drop prices, as they cannot afford to extend discounts at the same levels.
Even if an independent has a successful run of sales, they will have had to take a loss somewhere along the line. Many will have less profit to put back into their business. Some will have to make up the deficit on income by increasing their prices during other times of the year. Some will have to spend time, money and resources to replenish their stock that they’ve sold at a much lower rate.
Buy less, but buy smart
So what is the antidote to all of this? The best thing that consumers can do is vote with their feet (or in some cases, their web browser) and support smaller businesses. When considering a new purchase try to buy the best quality possible on less items.
Here at Bulb, we showcase up and coming designers who price fairly and sensibly for their talent. We are all about working with smaller, ethical brands who care about their environmental impact but don’t skimp on the style.
We also offer the opportunity to shop with Klarna and Clearpay, allowing you to spread the cost of buying better and more sustainably – without maxing out the credit card.