A Little Black Friday Chatter

shopping Nov 25, 2015

You're currently suffering from a turkey hangover. And a pumpkin or pecan pie hangover. Basically, just your typical Thanksgiving food coma recovery day. Or, Black Friday, as it is officially known - the bearer of mind-blowing discounts. Will you be partaking or join the revolution?

We know, them deals are hard to resists. Look at all the STUFF you can get. Source: Instagram

As you enthusiastically reluctantly force yourself out of bed to brave the crowds, secretly hoping that you can burn off at least half of that sweet potato casserole from the day before while you're scavenging for that marked down plasma screen, are you also asking yourself what on Earth has happened to the retail industry that made the day after Thanksgiving the equivalent of an annual commerce stampede? Probably not, but it's definitely worth a ponder.

Historically speaking, the name Black Friday refers to the large crowds of people who took off from work after turkey day, swarming the streets. But it also alludes to an accounting term: being in the black - aka turning a profit - as opposed to being in the red. While the UK and Canada both have Boxing Day as a discount shopping tradition, Americans took to that Friday following the day of food indulgence to take gift-buying to the next level.

As opposed to its Boxing Day counterpart, which is an attempt to sell the Christmas overstock by getting consumers back inside stores after the big shopping season is over, the Black Friday approach is to kick it off.

The #BlackFridayFund started last year by Everlane is set to go into its second year today. Their surpassed goal is proof that people do care about doing good things for the world.

And while Black Friday has existed for decades, it gained traction around the time the recession hit in 2008 as a way to encourage people to shop. The modern day Black Friday as we know it is a direct product of the late aught's economic slowdown. Suffice it to say, it turned into a consumerism circus, with many retailers now opening up on Thanksgiving day to extend the deal period for eager shoppers. Nothing like a turkey dinner with a side of 30% off.

But like any good bout of excess, the backlash is now beginning to reverberate slowly but surely. We've witnessed the birth of a trend that has emerged in the last few years: socially conscious companies. While every other brand is busy plotting their holiday retail strategy to have it revolve around Thanksgiving weekend, there is a new movement of do-gooders encouraging consumers to shun the "tradition" altogether.

Online-only retailer Everlane was one of the first ones to turn its back on this irresponsible shopping habit. With a transparency ethos at its core, they started the #BlackFridayFund last year, following a couple of consecutive years of not even being open at all, donating all profits made on D-Day to its factory workers. They're continuing with this practice again this year.

The new big player surfing the anti-Black Friday wave. They're counting down to their boycott.

Old school outdoor brand Patagonia, a veteran of the activist movement, has never even taken part in the whole bs BF mania. The outdoorsy brand's values revolve around the good of the planet and humanity, and instead of luring in the shoppers with seductive discounts, they urge their faithful consumers to partake in a clothing swap.

There's a newcomer to the boycott circle this year and they're not going out (or in?) quietly: REI is urging people to #OptOutside and the company is closing all of its stores, including ecommerce, in an effort to encourage all of their employees (with pay!) and customers to take to the outdoors instead of battling it out for the last GoPro at their local Wal-Mart.

They think that Black Friday has "gotten out of hand"... The brilliant part is that they're making so many waves with this campaign without actually offering discounts, they're garnering way more buzz than they would have had they played the markdown game.

What REI is hoping to achieve by eschewing Black Friday: trading in a mass-consumerism mentality for good wholsome values we often neglect.

In which Black Friday camp do you stand, the nayers or the sayers?