If the extreme crowds, paralyzing traffic, and harried retail staff aren’t enough to keep you away from the malls on this day of shopping excess called Black Friday, perhaps this may convince you to stay home: It’s national Buy Nothing Day.
Observed on the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, “this day is part of a movement against consumerism, urging the world to change their purchasing habits, to consume and produce less.”
As Black Friday has become a shopping juggernaut over the past decade, even in parts of the world that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it has engendered plenty of backlash. That includes what has been dubbed “Block Friday,” which this year includes protests by activists in France blocking entrance to an Amazon warehouse south of Paris in protest against the environmental effects of consumerism.
Some French lawmakers have even raised the possibility of banning Black Friday in France, while activists blocked the doors at some shopping centres on Friday.
So, if you are so inclined, here are the instructions for observing #BuyNothingDay, according to nationaldaycalendar.com: Instead of shopping, stay home and relax (or presumably go to work if you’re supposed to be there).
Other ways to show support: cut up credit cards; do a Whirl-mart – the act of disrupting others shopping by pushing your shopping cart around a store over and over while purchasing nothing (not kidding, it really says that); organize a Christmas Zombie walk – a visual expression of the obsession consumers have with Black Friday deal (invite all your friends).
Canadian artist Ted Dave founded Buy Nothing Day in September 1992 and it was shifted it to Black Friday in North America 1997 (other parts of the world mark the no-shopping day the day after Black Friday).
The movement has been amplified by Adbusters, a Canadian-based environmental not-for-profit.
“Something wicked this way comes! Black Friday and the powers that be are urging us to get out there and spend ‘til we can’t spend no more,” declares the Adbusters website.
It goes on to define Black Friday as: people trampling each other to buy stuff, the day after being thankful for what they have.”
Many social media users posting under the #BuyNothingDay hashtag urged others not to spend in order to send a message to corporations about climate change and the plastics pollution.
Ottawa’s Octopus Bookstore tweeted: “Octopus will be closed all day Nov 29th to celebrate #BuyNothingDay. We encourage you to join us in spending a bit of time reflecting on how powerful marketing is, how our consumption is destroying the planet, and on all the great things you can do that don't involve STUFF!”
It seems that Black Friday is overtaking Boxing Day for Canadian shoppers. The Retail Council of Canada’s holiday shopping survey found that 43 per cent of Canadian consumers planned to spend on Black Friday – up from 40 per cent in 2018 – and compared to 34 per cent who plan to shop on Boxing Day. Canadians surveyed by the RCC said they planned to spend 38 per cent of their holiday budget on Black Friday, compared to 30 per cent on Boxing Day.
On average, Canadians said they planned to spend $792 this year, up from $675 in 2018.
And overall, the report found that stores still rule, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets forecast to be spent in store and 28 per cent online.
Claire Santamaria, general manager at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, says traffic at the Toronto mall doubles on Black Friday, compared to a regular Friday.
“So normally we would see 50,000 to 55,000 people. We know on a day like today we will see about 100,000 people.”
Srabana Dasgupta, an associate marketing professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., says there is about a 16 per cent increase in online shopping on Black Friday.
“That’s pretty significant, but having said that, people are still using brick and mortar stores. It’s not something that is going to go away any time soon,” Dasgupta told CTV News Channel Friday.
She said more than 70 per cent of shoppers do their research online but end up purchasing in a store. But a significant portion of consumers do their research in store before turning to the internet to buy, she says.
“So clearly there’s this need for customers to have both these outlets and not just one. So having a presence both online and offline, I think is critical for retail success.”