Black Friday: shopping frenzy as a symptom?

A growing number of companies are using the last Friday in November to lure customers with attractive deals under the Black Friday slogan. The idea is to kick off the Christmas season with a US-style shopping spree. For commentators, the discount day highlights how our society indiscriminately indulges in consumption. But they also point out that for some it's easier to forego the bargains than for others.

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Luzerner Zeitung (CH) /

Time to get serious about climate protection

On Black Friday consumers should show just how much power they have, the Luzerner Zeitung urges:

“It's hard for us to resist temptation. At the same time, we rarely see ourselves as part of the problem, even when we cheerfully order cheap goods from the Far East and fly to Mexico on vacation. Publicity campaigns such as the climate strike that coincides with Black Friday increase awareness of the problem and the consequences of our actions. But when people adopt a moralising stance consumers feel patronised and it becomes counterproductive. Because we shouldn't underestimate just how much power they have. With every purchase they can decide whether to reward a company that pays fair wages, produces ecologically and respects human rights. The best time to start is today.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Not everyone can afford to boycott the deals

Not all people can afford to ignore discounts for the benefit of the environment, economist Jérôme Batout and consultant Geoffroy Daignes argue in Le Figaro:

“At the sight of the world's middle and lower classes flocking to the sales one might conclude that hyper-consumption - and the resulting climate change - is to be ascribed to the less well-off. But the super promotions on Black Friday are above all aimed at people who need them to maintain their buying power. Some don't really have any choice but to put off their purchases until that day rolls around. The wealthy, however, can easily pass up on the special offers.”

To Vima (GR) /

Consumers don't know what they really lack

These people are falling prey to their passions, author Sofia Margariti comments in To Vima:

“Our consumer society has taken on a totalitarian character because it presents material needs as global and metaphysical values and cleverly conceals the effects of this mutation. Humanity, as the victim, has exhausted all its defence mechanisms and sees its own deficits as deficits of 'having' things rather than deficits of 'being'. People are not afraid that the prolonged economic crisis poses a deadly threat to their life or freedom, but that the reduction of consumption and enjoyment will jeopardise their comfort and their assets.”

La Stampa (IT) /

We shop while Amazon's employees work like slaves

Amazon parcel carriers are on strike in several Italian cities. And with good reason, too, La Stampa stresses:

“These are the new slaves. Only no one knows about it. ... With their strike the parcel delivery people are standing up to Amazon on Black Friday, when trade on the American e-commerce reaches its peak. It might not cause major financial losses for Jeff Bezos, but at least it will draw attention to the couriers' working conditions. ... We sit at our computers, don't need to leave the house if it rains, and select all kinds of lovely Christmas gifts at discount prices. And we don't even think about what's behind the package. ... Namely workers who are forced to work in conditions reminiscent of Ford's assembly lines.” (IE) /

Sadly we're copying the wrong ideas from the US

Europeans would do better to adopt Thanksgiving Thursday than Black Friday, columnist Larry Donnelly writes in

“A compelling argument can be made that of all the things the United States has exported well beyond its shores, Black Friday is the worst. When I hear or read Black Friday ads from respected Irish retailers, I despair. On the other hand, and assuming the risk of being labelled a cultural imperialist, I wish that Thanksgiving went global. Surely, the practice of giving thanks for what we have is a noble and desirable one? Many of us have a tendency to dwell on all that is wrong in our lives and with the world we inhabit. It is a good idea to forsake the negative and accentuate the positive, if only for one day.”

Trends-Tendances (BE) /

The Christmas trade begins in November now

In his column in Trends-Tendaces Amid Faljaoui contradicts those who criticise the Black Friday sales for promoting excessive consumption:

“Black Friday doesn't tempt people to go on buying sprees, as is often said. Consumers are in fact simply doing their Christmas shopping in advance. In other words, Black Friday doesn't come on top of year-end sales, it replaces them. It marks a spike in spending, but retailers see that over the course of the whole year their sales figures remain stable or even decline. So technically we can't talk of overconsumption but of rescheduled consumption. The other unpleasant truth for retailers is that nowadays it's Amazon and its little brothers that impose the agenda for sales - not the lawmakers or the retailers' associations.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Excessive consumerism is anachronistic

Writing in Les Echos, Akeneo boss Fred de Gombert is delighted at the way clever companies with alternative strategies are protesting against consumer frenzy:

“Nature & Découvertes practices a 'Fair Friday', during which the 'discounts' it draws attention to aren't commercial discounts but reductions in biodiversity around the world. ... Last year the car sharing platform Drivy offered 50 euros to users who boycotted Black Friday. And [the organic chain] Naturalia has started a 'Vrack Friday' action to promote unpackaged products and zero waste. In these times of the climate emergency many companies and associations from different sectors are promoting environmental, social, and civic awareness. The era of hyper-consumption is over; welcome to responsible and intelligent consumption!”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

When e-commerce thrives, stores close

Big online promotions in the run-up to Christmas deprive small businesses in urban centres of their customers, the Irish Examiner points out:

“It is not necessary to be a curmudgeon - but it helps - to recognise that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are contrived marketing swizzes with a single objective - to shift product in time to get it under the Christmas tree. Despite that, a survey commissioned by PwC shows how very successful the idea has become in a relatively short time. ...The event, if that is what it is, is a perfect blend of consumerism and technology, one that brings Christmas to you and your laptop in a way so convenient that it can hardly be ignored. And in January, we will fret that town and city centres are dying.”