Should we rebel against Black Friday?

It’s finally the fourth Friday of November: quick, let’s all run to the store to take advantage of the bargains!

You are getting to know me, I would never say that! Let’s forget about the American Thanksgiving tradition and celebrate overconsumption instead! Although I admit it: I started taking advantage of the impressive Black Friday discounts three or four years ago… So, are we for or against Black Friday? The answer is more complex than you think…

We must first understand that it is the giants like Amazon and Apple that benefit the most. Their marketing strategies are impeccable. They make us believe that we will not have access to such good discounts and that we better hurry if we want our packages to arrive in time for Christmas.

But according to the UFC-Que Choisir association, we would spend a whole tree! Each year, they examine the prices of thousands of items sold on Black Friday on the twenty largest e-commerce sites in France, comparing them to purchases made a week before. The result? The average discount on each item is less than 2%. Eh yes! After the back-to-school discounts, some big players would inflate the “regular” prices to come to us with falsely tempting offers that encourage purchase.

And the local economy in all this? Several small businesses in our area are playing their future these days. How to compete against the giants without participating in the Black-Friday? For some small businesses, this is the time of year when they have no choice but to offer ambitious discounts that attract consumers. They need this day of purchases, because even if they sell at a discount, the income generated allows them to ensure a certain financial stability in view of the slower months that follow Christmas.

Like I said, I’ve only been on Black Friday for three or four years. Rather than making impulse purchases, I take the time to prepare myself well. My best tip to avoid over-consumption and unnecessary purchases is to analyze the four steps of responsible consumption:

  1. Assess my needs
  1. To do the housework
  1. Declutter
  1. List the utility purchases (and gifts) that will save me money.

To give you a concrete example, last year, I noticed that I had a real need in the hygiene and cosmetics department.

I first cleaned out my cupboards and my pharmacy to clean it. I found lots of small bottoms of pots that I had forgotten. Putting them together, I realized I had the equivalent of a jar of cream. So I avoided a purchase.

Next, I decluttered my closets. I made room, but not necessarily to better fill them. By doing the exercise, we are inevitably confronted with our waste… I realized that several purchases had been useless to me or that I had not consumed them quickly enough. Again, this got me thinking.

Then finally, I made a list of the purchases I really needed. I took advantage of the bargains and I was very proud of it. But a year later, I still have several of those jars of shampoos, creams and hair care that haven’t been opened. I note that I still overconsumed, even by targeting my needs. Luckily, as these are products that I use on a daily basis, they will not be wasted. But I admit that I fell into the trap. This year I will therefore try to be more vigilant. I even try to avoid succumbing to the temptation of shopping.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic slowdown that are hitting have made us aware of the impact of our purchases. We note the rise of a Black Friday counter-movement, also called Green Friday or Buy Nothing Day. Last year, the zero-waste shop Terre à soi had the courage to close to make its customers aware of the negative impacts of Black Friday on the environment.

Overconsumption is buying objects that will be used very little and eventually be (quickly) thrown away. We waste resources, fill up landfills, deplete our wallets and harm the health of the planet.

In this period of inflation where everyone wants to save money, it is important to remain vigilant and not to jump on the first offer. Keep in mind that what costs you the most is what you waste!

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