If you’ve been following Postconsumers for any period of time, then you know that we devote a great deal of page space each year to Black Friday and our staunch opposition to it. We started with our keystone piece of content, Fifty Things to Do Other Than Shop on Black Friday, and expanded from there into what has now grown into a full Black Friday Alternative resource center. If you want to learn pretty much everything that we can think of that you may need to know about Black Friday and why it’s the epitome of everything that is wrong with a society based on addictive consumerism, we’re your destination for that! But we don’t think it’s healthy to just bark and bark about a problem without occasionally crowing and tooting about some of the progress that’s been made. And while Black Friday is still a day when the worst aspects of consumerism poke their head (and spiked tail) out, there is growth and progress. We want to celebrate the positive aspects of that today!
A Note on the Word “Anti”
You very rarely if ever see or hear Postconsumers use the word “anti.” We avoid it like the plague and actually draw a strong distinction between the anti-consumer movement and the postconsumer movement. We believe that the answer to long-term sustainability lies in a mainstream approach that doesn’t penalize people for buying into the consumerism that they’re raised to believe in but instead encourages them to find a place of satisfaction by learning what is “enough” for them. However, you’ll see us use the word “anti” in reference to Black Friday without apology. Not only is Black Friday the culmination of everything that is mentally, emotionally, socially and financially dangerous about addictive consumerism, but it’s also become physically violent. We don’t use the word “anti” lightly. We do use it in reference to Black Friday.
Success Number One: More Stores Closing on Thanksgiving!
To be honest, few things made us sadder about the spread of addictive consumerism than when it began to spill into Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving was one of the last true holidays that hadn’t been entirely taken over by consumerism and that still primarily focused on friends, family, relationships and (of course) food. We understood that some people rushed out to get in line for midnight door openings, but at least it didn’t actively take them away from Thanksgiving day. But as things progressed, more and more stores began their Black Friday sales during the day on Thanksgiving, and more and more people went to them. And the Postconsumers team was glum! Fortunately, the trend has begun to reverse in recent years and not only are stores choosing not to open on Thanksgiving but the media and the public in general are praising them for it. Here’s a relatively current list of stores that have stopped opening their doors on Thanksgiving, but you’d want to do a current web search to get a full list since new stores are making this decision each year. While it’s not a “direct blow” to Black Friday, it’s definitely a pushing back of the tide!
Success Number Two: More Structured Black Friday Alternatives with Big PR
We don’t want to say that we were ahead of the curve in talking about how much better it is to do anything other than shop, but back when we started talking about this over half a decade ago, there were just a few “anti-Black Friday” things going on and you could find them on MeetUp. In fact, part of what inspired our initial list of ideas for things to do other than shop on Black Friday was the lack of structured alternatives out there. We’re thrilled to say that’s changed dramatically over the years. Just last year, we were super exited to log into Facebook and see multiple people in our friends feed (many of whom would in no way consider themselves postconsumers) talking about their kids participating in an outdoor activity anti-Black Friday group or how they themselves were doing something else other than shop and were delighted about it. Museums are starting to give discounts and host events on Black Friday to encourage more fulfilling activities. And, of course, Buy Nothing Day has been growing, originally begun by Adbusters. Yes, there’s certainly still a long way to go, but we’re encouraged by the traction behind more and more structured and embraced alternatives to Black Friday shopping.
Success Number Three: Is It More Than a Feeling?
It’s possible that this final note is just wishful thinking on our part, and certainly the Black Friday sales numbers indicate that it’s just as powerful a force as ever (especially when you combine in Cyber Monday). However, we just feel like there’s a tide beginning to turn in ever the most slight way. More and more, people are beginning to see the ugliness behind Black Friday and come out against it. Unfortunately, there’s an element of this that has turned into a discussion on racism and socio-economics (there are plenty of articles out there about how rich white people can easily be anti-Black Friday because the discounts don’t matter as much to them). But for all of the ugliness of both the day itself and the debate about the day, we feel in our hearts that society is starting to realize just how awful the reality of what Black Friday has turned into has become. Is this just us projecting? Possibly, but we certainly hope not.
With all of the Black Friday information out there, it’s easy to be discouraged by how big the “event” still is and how much impact it has on society. But we can only move forward in changing that if we focus on the positive and don’t allow ourselves to believe that nothing can change. We think that the three points above are not only positive, they’re inspiring. Change can happen. It will happen. And it starts right here with the work that we’re all doing to cure our culture of addictive consumerism.
Did we miss a way in which the anti-Black Friday movement is progressing? If so, tell us about it on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: Mike Licht via Flickr