Black Friday: Why do we say no?

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This year we’re uncovering the real truth of Black Friday. From sale scams to unethical fashion, there’s a lot kept behind closed doors.

Person on computer with credit card.

Black Friday 2021 is here. The world event is considered the inaugural season of Christmas shopping with significant sales that appeal to mass commerce. At first, it may seem like a good deal; waiting for the day when prices drop dramatically to do your shopping. But there is more to it than you think.

 

The origins: from crisis to excess

The event originated in the United States quickly spread to the rest of the world. It was in the years of the 2000s that the phenomenon assumed itself as the annual day with the highest volume of purchases. The name also became official during this era, associated with extreme sales, and held one day after Thanksgiving. 
 
But the true story behind the term "Black Friday" has remote origins, way further than the beginning of the XXI century. History Channel explains that the term was first used on September 24, 1869, linked with a Wall Street stock market crash.
The two ruthless stockholders Jay Gould and Jim Fisk joined forces to buy as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. The plan ended up failing and the stock market went into free-fall and bankrupted everyone, from the smallest farmers to the powerful Wall-Street barons. Interestingly, the origin of the term is associated with a financial crash, which is the opposite of the abundance that Black Friday represents today.
For almost two years now we have witnessed the closing of local businesses all around the world and a paralyzed economic activity due to the pandemic. Unemployment levels skyrocketed and purchasing powers declined. As the economy has begun to recuperate, we might assume that Black Friday is an essential part of this recovery. However, it is fallacious to fall into this narrative. 

"The biggest retail companies that benefit from Black Friday do not share this privilege with the small local businesses"


The very real risks behind Black Friday

There are already enough people with credit card debts for things they do not need, simply because they are not enlightened about buying consciously. Also, the drastic and temporary drop in prices only creates more discrepancies within the sectors that join Black Friday, resulting in an unbalanced concentration of profits. 

And whatever economic factor we present, each one of them gains special prominence in the context of the financial crisis we are still living in due to Covid-19. The biggest retail companies that benefit from Black Friday do not share this privilege with the small local businesses - those that have been severally affected by the negative economic cycle of the pandemic. 

Black Friday as we know it ends up bringing many unnecessary risks, including shopping mall gatherings (let’s not forget we are still living in a pandemic) and even outbreaks of violence. There is a strong appeal for customers to opt for e-Commerce during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, this reality comes with plenty of cybersecurity risks such as online scams and thefts. We all love a good business offer, but it is extremely important to be well informed and safe before navigating online commerce.

Some brands actually raise their prices earlier, so that when Black Friday comes, they can sell at their normal prices while making it look like a bargain. Far beyond what we need and want, whether we like it or not, we’re far more susceptible to marketing than we think.

 Woman with shopping bag in white dress.

Why do we say no to Black Friday?

Black Friday's consumerist impetus appeals to the superfluous and impulsive buying of items that are often unnecessary. The concept is totally against what sustainable commerce and circular fashion teach us. Black Friday epitomizes the business model of quick production, consumption, and disposal. Just like fast fashion, based on the idea of seasonal and volatile trends. 

Fast fashion brands produce clothes so that they go out of style, lose shape, or fall apart quickly. The cheaper something is, the cheaper it was to make. No material thing in life comes for free. Fast fashion’s narrative tells us that following the trends is the only way to remain fashionable, which leads the consumer to buy new clothes frequently. These companies only get richer by keeping this twisted cycle going. Black Friday ends up advocating this consumer mentality, by provoking a drastic increase in demand after a general decrease in prices. And if it increases consumer demand; it will also have to increase the supply. 

Creating a high supply leads to mass production, which accentuates many other problems along the way: ethical work conditions are more likely to be violated; there's an increase of waste in landfills that pollute the air we breathe; animal exploitation is intensified to meet production deadlines. 

Not giving in to compulsive consumerism and adhering to more sustainable or solidarity campaigns is the first step. Buying only what we need is one of the countless ways to apply minimalism in our lives.

So, if you do really need to buy something and you’re hoping to find a good deal on Black Friday, we’ve got some tips to help you navigate through this event.

 Women packing paper bags.

How do I buy consciously during this Black Friday?

Don’t feel overwhelmed with Black Friday’s ‘pressure-to-buy’. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before deciding whether to make a purchase:

Is it necessary – do I want it, or do I need it?

It is purposeful – can I think of countless occasions I will wear it? (Calculate your cost per wear)

Is it simple – is it versatile enough to survive more than a few seasons in the fashion world?

 

These are rational questions that require rational answers. However, a lot of people use shopping as an emotional coping mechanism and a form of therapy. To get truly insightful answers you have to look deeper within. Ask yourself:

-How am I feeling today? 

-Did something exciting happen recently? 

-Am I feeling vulnerable? 

-Am I feeling empowered? 

-Do I feel ashamed? 

-How in love am I with myself today? 

-How magnificent do I feel?

 

By understanding where our behavior is coming from, we can better understand if we are buying out of a real desire and need, or if we’re just trying to fill a void inside ourselves that will never be satisfied with material things.

With that being said, shall we start purchasing consciously and safely?

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