Until a few years ago, the Friday after Thanksgiving was -- outside of the U.S. anyway -- just another Friday, much like the day before it was just another Thursday. After all, Thanksgiving is a holiday that commemorates a feast between American natives and settlers, something that wouldn't necessarily resonate in France or Germany.
However, retailers in Europe and elsewhere have latched on to the retail aspect of the holiday, importing Black Friday sales from the U.S. into their own retail culture. With these sales comes the attendant Black Friday madness -- crass consumerism, unruly crowds, misleading ads, and insane store hours.
Some governments and environment and consumer advocacy groups aren't pleased with retailers' choice to import the sale to their own countries.
One of the biggest criticisms from consumer advocacy groups comes from misleading marketing schemes. Some retailers in the U.K. are jacking up their prices to make it sound like consumers are getting a good deal, when, in fact, that same product was on sale for the Black Friday sale price as the regular price just a few months ago. This leads the shoppers to think they are getting a great deal, which isn't the case.
This price manipulation is occurring fairly frequently in Britain thanks to Black Friday. A consumer research group found that about 61 percent of the items advertised as being heavily discounted for Black Friday were actually cheaper, or at about the same Black Friday price, before the big event.
Russia's consumer watchdog group is putting out similar warnings about Black Friday advertising trickery to its own consumers.
The Environmental And Human Costs Of Crass Consumerism
In France, protesters blocked access to a shopping mall, warning that the way people are consuming is threatening the future of the very planet itself.
"The planet burns, oceans die, and we still want to consume, consume, and therefore produce, produce - until we eradicate all living things?... We will not betray our children for a 30% discount!" the Parisian "Block Friday" protesters said.
In Germany, Amazon workers went on strike for better pay. In South Africa, newspapers pointed out how rabid consumerism, epitomized by the lines of Black Friday shoppers, underscores the wealth inequality in the nation. In Egypt, the name "Black Friday" has been changed to "White Friday" or "Yellow Friday," due to Friday being a sacred day for Muslims.
Stopping The Black Friday Train
Here in the U.S., it looks like Black Friday is here to stay. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, only two significant retailers -- sporting goods store REI and cosmetics brand Deciem -- have publicly pushed back against the unofficial holiday.