This Friday, independent retailers across the country will shut down their websites, donate their profits to charity and plant trees as part of a renewed drive against the rabid consumerism encouraged by large online sellers offering deals for Black Friday.
About 85% of independent retailers will not participate this year in Black Friday, the day sellers claim to offer bargains and slash prices in an attempt to shore up custom before Christmas.
The number of retailers boycotting the event is the highest figure ever recorded by the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) and comes as part of a growing movement against huge online shopping websites such as Amazon that has gained traction since the start of the pandemic.
“I am donating 10% of Black Friday weekend sales to my local food bank,” said Zoe Roberts, founder of Out of the Box Gifts, an eco-friendly gift box shop based in Cheshire. “There is more than one reason that I dislike Black Friday – the main one is that I think it encourages us to purchase things that we don’t need and therefore increases waste.”
Zoe Roberts, founder of gift box seller Out of the Box, will donate 10% of her Black Friday profits to a local food bank. Photograph: Sarah White
She also wants to highlight how impossible it is for small businesses to compete with larger retailers on that day. “Small businesses tend to keep their prices fair all year round and therefore can’t afford to discount heavily just before the busiest time of the year.”
Other independent retailers, such as Surrey-based Shutter Jewellery and secondhand children’s and maternity clothes retailer Build a Bundle in Cumbria, will plant trees on Friday as an antidote to the waste created by consumerism. “I try to do whatever I can to reduce waste. I’ll be planting 100 trees to give back to the planet rather than padding to the overconsumption by tempting people to buy more than they want or need,” said Sophie de Taranto, owner of Shutter Jewellery.
The founders of Pantee, a sustainable underwear brand, plan to switch off their website. “The only people able to access our site will be engaged members of our community that have signed up to our mailing list and got a password… no sales, no impulse buying,” said co-founder Katie McCourt. “Our message this Black Friday is to stop and think before you buy. Is it something you love? Is it something you need?”
Birmingham-based jeweller and goldsmith Ruth Mary Chipperfield will be releasing a video on Friday giving tips on how to repair jewellery on her website, ruthmary.com. “On anti-Black Friday, I’m encouraging people to look inside their jewellery box and instead of buying new, have treasured pieces repaired,” she said. “I’m saying: look at the great things you already have. You don’t need to buy anything new. Actually, a really nice Christmas present for some people might be a ring they thought was broken, but gets snuck out of their jewellery box …….