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To avoid climate reality, retailers are putting their heads in the sand.
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To avoid climate reality, retailers are putting their heads in the sand.

A Best Buy store with a queue outside


Black Friday – widely considered the first day of the Christmas shopping season – is celebrated this year on 26 November. “Celebrated” might not be the best term to use, however, when you consider the injury and death tollThe day has always been a great day.

Black Friday falls on the Friday after the American holiday of ThanksgivingIts appearance in the UK and other parts of the world is culturally irrelevant at best and crass at worst. It’s mainly used to ramp up consumer demand to a feverish intensity as Christmas approaches.

There is nothing inherently wrong with consumers having the opportunity to buy products at a discount – although last year in the UK, over 90% of Black Friday offers had been listed at the same price or cheaper during the previous six months – but the day has become overwhelmingly defined by shocking images of mindless consumerism.

A Best Buy store with a queue outside
Black Friday shopping can lead to physical brawls, and even death.
Diariocriticove/Flickr, CC BY

The world’s leaders could not agree to categorically commit to the UN climate conference COP26 held in Glasgow this month. phasing out fossil fuels. Their failureTo take enough ambitious action is an opportunity for reflection on the gap between the ideals of ecological reforms and the reality of consumerist lifestyles. When it comes down to it, it’s incredibly hard for both countries and people to give up the short-term gratification of materialism to protect the long-term future of our planet.

There is now a growing acceptance that sustainability is not simply a matter of consumers’ individual accountability and choice. Our governments and companies cannot be blamed for their sustainability. failuresTo regulate excessive combustion of fossil fuels. And our culture of consumerismEmissions are also to blame: household buying habits, often motivated by a desire for social status or to keep up with current trends, contribute to over 60%global greenhouse gas emissions.

A sign that reads
In the face of climate crisis, consumerism is on the rise.
Colton Vond/Flickr, CC BY

The truth will emerge if you look away from the flashing lights of Black Friday ads. If we want to reduce climate change’s impact, we all have to rethink our consumption habits and how they are affecting our lives. This is a big deal when you consider how important retail is to the economy. British Retail Consortium, the UK’s biggest private sector employer.

It is showing signs of a growing sector. green transition. Demand is high at the moment shiftingCorporate leaders are making pledges to move away from high street shops and toward online shopping and global shipping. decarboniseTheir businesses.

Many major UK retailers like Morrisons, Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. They plan to achieve this by creating decarboniseShops and domestic delivery, as well as making all products purchased in the UK net zero. Although this sounds promising, it’s a strategy that fails to address our society’s consumerist mindset by simply encouraging us to buy the same amount of stuff – just at a lower carbon cost than before. Retailers’ grand commitments must be contextualised alongside current practices, which remain far from sustainable.

If you look at the websites of many major retailers today, you’ll see that they are still aggressively competing with each other to sell brand new, energy-guzzling smart TVs, cheap clothesBlack Friday deals on digital gadgets and tablets If retailers were serious in addressing climate change, then they would expect to see them move away from unsustainable commodities. second-handClearance and sale items

Black Friday, however, presents us with a retail industry that doubles down on deeper consumption. This is a position that is tone deaf and increasingly incompatible with the climate emergency.


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