Black Friday Fatigue? Some Brands Are Boycotting The Unofficial Retail Holiday

Black Friday, the nation's unofficial largest retail shopping day, is coming up in a few days. But for the 2019 holiday, several retailers are boycotting the practice, citing fears of violence, wanting to allow their employees to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, or just generally opting out of the chaos.

As HuffPost reports, it seems almost anathema that a retailer would voluntarily turn away business on what could be its most lucrative day of the year. But that's exactly what many are doing, even going so far as to publicly push back against consumerism.

For example, cosmetics manufacturer Deciem, which owns the brand The Ordinary, is not only closing its brick-and-mortar stores on November 29, it's also shutting down its website. The effort is aimed at bringing attention to the perils of crass and unfettered consumerism, and to the damage it does not only to the shopper but to the planet.

"Hyper-consumerism poses one of the biggest threats to the planet, and flash sales can often lead to rushed purchasing decisions, driven by the fear of a sell-out. We no longer feel that Black Friday is an earth or consumer-friendly event," reads a post on the brand's Instagram page.

A company spokesperson noted that employees will still be paid for the day.

a black friday sale ad
Pixabay | pinwhalestock

Outdoor retailer REI, which has shuttered its stores on Black Friday for the past few years, is doing it again this year. Specifically, it's encouraging its employees to spend the day outside. What's more, according to Gear Junkie, the retailer is asking its employees to use the day to make a commitment to helping the environment year-round.

So far, it appears as if REI and Deciem are the only major retailers to shut down on Black Friday. Others, however, have resisted the "Black Friday creep" that has resulted in stores actually being open on Thanksgiving Day. For a while, so eager were certain retailers to get in on the Black Friday action that employees were being forced to work on what otherwise would have been a family holiday. However, after some consumer pushback, it appears that many retailers have taken the hint and decided to keep the doors locked on Thanksgiving Day. The website maintains a list of which stores will be closed on the Thursday before Black Friday.

So do these decisions to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, and even extend those closures to Black Friday, come from a place of altruism, or sound retail policy? Halina Szejnwald Brown, Professor Emerita of Environmental Science and Policy at Clark University, notes that ad campaigns aimed at presenting the image that the company is trying to shut down impulse-buying doesn't change the fact that retailers are still in it for the money.

"Changing their business model somewhat so people don't buy on impulse, that's a nice idea, I would agree, but it doesn't fundamentally change the companies' concept of success," she said.