So today’s topic is Buy Nothing Day which is the anti-consumerist reaction to Black Friday, which is also today. I get the the reaction, yes our consumerism does have an impact on the environment but so does everything we do, not just shopping. I never expected today’s post to be as long as it is but the great thing about the Internet is that it’s a platform for everyone to voice their opinion, including me. So apologies in advance for the extremely long ramble but here’s why I don’t think Black Friday is as evil as some people are making it out to be.
There have been grumblings over the last few days, mainly on twitter about people not liking Black Friday. My personal belief is if you don’t like something the don’t do it but this morning I woke up people were in full force judgemental mode, calling people greedy and vulgar and that they should donate their money to charity instead or asking do we really need more stuff? Or that Black Friday is an American thing so why should we be like them? It’s just a way for shops to make more money! Just say no to Black Friday without actually giving a reason and so one and so and whilst these are all valid points I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment with which they were expressed. I should never check twitter in the morning before having a cup of tea, my initial response was do these people not understand how business works? And why are they being so rude and mean blah blah blah. In the shower I formulated a more civilised response as to why Black Friday does not have to be a bad thing. When I came back to twitter, @antibloom had restored my faith a little by tweeting that Black Friday was a way for people to spread the cost for Christmas and also good for small businesses by way of rewarding their customers and maybe getting some new ones. Basically summed up my thoughts in two tweets. But I’m gonna write anyway.
Black Friday is an American thing! Can I remind everyone in the UK of that phenomenon we have called the Boxing Day and January sales? Okay so they may not be as bad as they were years ago especially now that sales are held all year round but you could guarantee every January people would be lined up outside Harrods ready to do the steeplechase to get a telly, so why are we getting huffy about Black Friday? I know loads of people who would get up on Boxing day to get to Next sale for 5am, to scramble over some cheap clothing, so is it really any different? I don’t agree with people fighting over a bargain so I think we should be asking why aren’t we fighting for fairer prices all year round?
What’s wrong with spreading the cost? So I know a lot people are minimalist and anti consumerist but people work hard and you know what? They’re allowed to to treat themselves to nice things if they want to because at the need of the day it’s down to choice. Some people choose not to buy themselves stuff because they feel they don’t need it, other people choose to buy themselves stuff because they want it and in the sale they can afford it, neither of these choices are wrong. It also helps spread the cost of Christmas and yes I know Christmas is not about the gifts and it has become a little consumerist over the years, I went to Catholic school, I still carry the guilt today but what if you don’t have a lot of money and you want to afford the few gifts you can buy or you have a large family with lots of nieces and nephews, lots of small gifts is still expensive. We tend not to go overboard at Christmas in our house, just a few token gifts because we’d rather save for a nice holiday but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat ourselves every now and again.
Why not give the money to a worthy cause instead? Maybe they already are! Maybe they’re buying something for someone who can’t afford it and want to do something nice for them. Maybe they’re buying a telly for someone who lives on their own so they don’t get so lonely on the days they can’t make it round to visit them. Maybe they’re stocking up on supplies to donate to a shelter. Maybe they’ve been saving hard for something and can now afford it in the sale, especially if they need and are going to use it.
Have you considered the ethical practices? To be honest we should be questioning where our goods come from and how they’re made whenever we buy something, not just during bargain hunting. It’s something I’ve been looking into myself and chatting about with fellow twitterers. Now I have taken advantage of some of the sales, like on Amazon. I know we shouldn’t use Amazon because of the whole tax evasion thing but to be honest I shop from a lot of independent shops who trade through the market place so where I believe that all corporations should pay their tax, I don’t believe in making the smaller traders who do pay their taxes suffer by boycotting them.
But it’s still greedy and consumerist! Well maybe it is but people are still allowed to, like every other day of the year, to buy themselves stuff if they want to. People get their pleasure out of different things. Some people like long walks on a sunny day, other like binge watching X files under a duvet whilst eating Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. Everyone is different, buying stuff for yourself doesn’t make you greedy or consumerist, personally I think it’s just a way to make you feel bad.
But Small Businesses have Small Business Saturday! Yes they do. But there are a lot of reasons why small independent businesses jump of the Black Friday wagon including me and I make no apologies for it. Here are mine as a small business owner.
- Er the blazing obvious is to make money, unfortunately businesses don’t run on love and good vibes only alone, you need capital, also I have bills to pay.
- I have overseas customers, so it’s way of saying thank you to them. Shipping costs are a mare, so a little extra discount goes a long way these days.
- The second one extends to all my customers and I want to say thank you by giving a discount.
- Also helps spread the cost before Christmas.
- Raise funds for new projects
- Clear out stock room to make way for new projects
- Helps find some new customers and build a customer base.
So we might not be able to offer massive discounts like the big corporations but we still need to make a living. Most of us love our jobs because it involves being creative, it doesn’t pay well and most of don’t make a profit for years and then when we finally do, we just about do. Will I make any sales this Black Friday? Probably no more than usual but the option is there if people want to take advantage of it and I guess that the summation of this whole rambling post, it’s about choice. You can choose to participate or not but please don’t make people feel bad about their choices. Yes we should strive to be less materialistic but doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have things we want. We should choose to be more ethical about our choices and so companies should be more transparent about where their goods come from so we can make more informed choices. Tomorrow we’ll all be up in arms about something else and Black Friday will be forgotten for another year.
But that’s just my opinion and if you made it the way to the bottom of this post, thank you!! I promise my posts won’t always be this long or rambling.
Whatever you choose to do today, I hope it’s a great one.