Bargains – But At What Cost? The Push Back Against Black Friday

 

This time last year, I wrote a damning article about why I feel Black Friday is creating shopping hysteria. A shopping hysteria which not only ends up with customers quite literally coming to blows with each other, but also highlights our lack of consideration of the volume of clothing and other goods we ‘feast’ on during these discount events, only to later dump when a newer model or style comes out.

 As a small mark of protest we closed our online store for 24 hours under the banner of #BLEAKFRIDAY and we were overwhelmed by the response from our customers;

I greatly admire your commitment as I can imagine this might not have been such an easy decision. There’s a lot of pressure on brands to take part in this whole craze, whether they’re conscious brands or not. So I find it even more impressive that you’ve actually shut down your online shop today on top of it. I take off my virtual hat to you, it’s very inspiring to know that there are people like you who can withstand commercial pressure and stay true to themselves.” 

I totally support your actions, and have avoided shopping for such things today. This really inspiring!”

“Great to see the Antiform team leading the way, I fully support #BleakFriday”
Our customers weren’t the only people supporting us. We were contacted via twitter from people all over the world who wanted to stand up against #BleakFriday. It seems that there a lot of people out there who can see that this type of discounting mania is not only letting us down by selling us things we don’t need (at discounts that have often already been built into the pricing of items), but also letting down the people in the supply chain whose commitment and time into making these products – as well as our planet by glossing over consideration for resources used in their production.
So one year on, what has changed?

I think our #BleakFriday campaign alongside the many others who spoke out last year, has inspired more designers and brands to stand up and say they are not getting involved and why. Nicole Coates, a friend of ours and designer at lingerie brand Colie Co sums up why it makes no sense to her;

“We are not discounting any of our items for Black Friday. As an independent I work very hard to keep my brand fresh and alive. I will not be degrading myself or my brand this year, my time and money is worth more than that. I will be continuing to work hard over the holiday season hand-making all of your orders to a high quality in my studio. “

However, independents are not the only ones pulling out this year. Controversially Asda – who is in fact credited with bringing the Black Friday phenomenon to the UK – has decided not to participate. This u-turn has been caused largely by the negative publicity of in-store fighting coupled with a drop in profits on their food sales on sale day – presumably caused by shoppers not risking the gauntlet for a pint of milk. Over in the US, outdoor brand REI is not only closing its 143 stores all day on Black Friday but is asking people to #OptOutside and instead spend the day in the great outdoors and enjoying nature along with their 12,000 staff. Nearly 1 million people have signed up to join them in parks across the US.

Unfortunately Asda’s move doesn’t look like it will hold back the amount of goods we buy this Black Friday. In fact UK retailers are expecting the spend to total £1.6bn on Black Friday alone, according to analysts Conlumino who predict that more shoppers in the UK then ever before will get involved this year. It looks unlikely that the shopping experience will be any better – last year police were called to 16 Tesco stores throughout the UK.

Sadly, what has also changed little since last year is the prevailing message that we all need new stuff – another gadget, another bag, another product promising us brighter skin. First we ‘need’ a bigger television, then a slimmer one, then an HD one, and now a curved one.

The idea of ‘stuff’ bringing us happiness is something that at Antiform really challenge. It’s never really the mere presence of an item in our lives that brings us happiness, we think, but how useful it’s been to us, how many times it’s made us smile, the happy memories it has been a part of – the usefulness it’s brought us or the joy it represents. In our long time working to make clothing last and make it loved, we’ve come to realise that the true value of an item to a person is often evidenced by how it becomes interwoven in someone’s life, how often it’s been used, how carefully it’s been looked after, how many times it’s been lovingly repaired – long after the memory of that item’s original cost has faded.

So please read again why we are once more boycotting Black Friday – hopefully we can all enjoy what we have and source what we need in a more considered (and much more pleasant!) way.

3 Comments


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    eimeargreaney@gmail.com'
    eimear November 27, 2015 Reply

    I live in ireland and there are stores here partaking, although its a bit bizarre as one store advertised a black friday sale – but ending this wednesday (ie 2 days ago). I often find it strange that some people see shopping as a past time and dont know what else to do with their time!


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    mary.fisher@zen.co.uk'
    Mary Fisher November 29, 2015 Reply

    I’ve no idea whether shops were closed or not on Friday,we only shop once a week, for food (only basic ingredients), on Thursday. Even then much of our food comes from the garden. Make almost all non-food ‘stuff’ ourselves – the spirit of Antiform!

    A bargain is only a bargain if you need (not want) it.


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    Julialsay@gmail.com'
    Julia November 29, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lizzie, I was really happy to see your BleakFriday this year. It’s a good reminder that we can be happy without continually buying stuff – and place more value on the things we have.

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