By Claire Gordon • 21 November 2021 • 12:12
This Friday is the now annual tradition of shops slashing prices and posting bargains in an attempt to shore up sale numbers before Christmas. But this year things are looking a little different for the American custom that has overtaken the world, as independent retailers are planning the largest-ever Black Friday boycott to protest against ‘rabid consumerism’.
About 85% of independent retailers will not participate this year in Black Friday, instead choosing to shut their websites, donate their profits to charity and plant trees in a renewed drive to slow down overconsumption.
The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has recorded the highest ever number of Black Friday boycott registrations this year, and they come as part of a growing movement against huge online shopping websites such as Amazon, a cause that has gained momentum since the beginning of the pandemic.
“I am donating 10% of Black Friday weekend sales to my local food bank,” said Zoe Roberts, founder of Out of the Box Gifts, an eco-friendly gift box shop based in Cheshire. “There is more than one reason that I dislike Black Friday – the main one is that I think it encourages us to purchase things that we don’t need and therefore increases waste.”
While talking to The Observer, she added: “Small businesses tend to keep their prices fair all year round and therefore can’t afford to discount heavily just before the busiest time of the year.”
Sophie de Taranto, the owner of Shutter Jewellery, said: “I try to do whatever I can to reduce waste. I’ll be planting 100 trees to give back to the planet rather than padding to the overconsumption by tempting people to buy more than they want or need.” Other owners of small businesses plan to switch off their websites.
The anti-Black Friday movement is growing in popularity and people are looking for many more ways to shop small. Local high streets and markets are doing well out of the change and local Facebook groups have reported an upswing in sales.
Shoplocalonline.org is another website that has recently opened as part of the Black Friday boycott and the unfair rules put in place during the pandemic. Dr Jackie Mulligan, the founder of the site said: “Small businesses weren’t allowed to trade, they were deemed non-essential in many categories. And then we saw a billionaire [Amazon founder Jeff Bezos] propelling himself into space. It just doesn’t make any sense. Black Friday is decimating the high street – it’s the Grinch that has stolen Christmas from smaller retailers. Small retailers don’t want to pay 30% commission to an online giant, they don’t want their things coming out of a fulfilment warehouse. They just want to be able to serve their customers.”
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