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In a push back against the U.S shopping phenomenon Black Friday, small Australian businesses are asking consumers to think before buying. 

Black Friday 

Black Friday, a U.S tradition, sees shoppers receive massive discounts on items in the lead up to Christmas. The tradition has now been adopted by retailers all over the world, including Australia.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) estimates that in the lead up to Christmas, Australians will spend more than $59 billion, which has increased by 11.3 per cent on 2019 sales. But as Black Friday heats-up, a backlash from small businesses is gaining traction.

Australian push-back 

Small businesses in Australia are taking a stand and pushing back against the pressure to discount their goods in today’s Black Friday sales. Many say they will boycott the event, asking shoppers not to buy. 

They say that for them, the sales are not economically sustainable or environmentally conscious. There is also concern that the rabid consumerism encouraged by large online sellers offering deals for Black Friday show no support for industries struggling in the fall-out from the global pandemic.

“After two years of heavy financial strain due to the pandemic, we’re now hit with the pressure of having to discount our products,” says startup Laura Hall, who runs her handmade hat business, Phyllis, from Scone in regional NSW. 

Sustainability concerns

Small and individual manufacturers are also questioning the sustainability of high-spend sales holidays, which encourage consumers to spend on impulse buys rather than make informed and considered choices about whether they’re buying quality products or soon-to-be landfill.

Australian businesses are voicing their concern that Black Friday undermines the sustainability message their brands are built upon. 

These brands are not participating in the event, claiming that it promotes overconsumption, pushes consumerism to generate sales of unnecessary, unwanted, cheap goods made from poor-quality, unsustainable materials at bargain prices. 

It’s not just small businesses recognising the sustainability concerns around Black Friday, today, Swedish multi-national IKEA announced the launch of it’s Green Friday campaign.

The initiative will allow Australian to to sell unwanted IKEA products back to the company in return for additional value on an IKEA refund card. 

IKEA said the promotion is part of its the goal of becoming circular and climate positive by 2030. The brand is charging ahead saying that by 2030 all IKEA products will be intended to be reused, repaired, reassembled and recycled by customers.

Anti-Black Friday movement 

The anti-Black Friday movement has grown in popularity over the last few years. Increasing concerns about brands’ role in the climate crisis and the impact of hyper-consumerism has seen some advertisers reject the retail holiday entirely and ask customers not to spend money with them.

Many shoppers, too, have embraced the anti-Black Friday message turning back to their local streets and markets to shop, and are increasingly looking online for ways to shop locally. 

For Ms Hall, the impact of COVID has been too significant even to consider cutting prices, saying it’s only large brands that benefit from the frenzied shopping event. 

She says, “It’s really only the big name brands and multi-nationals who can afford to promote Black Friday. For small businesses like ours, after COVID, there’s no more fat to cut.”

Read more: Black Friday and beyond: How to prepare for EOY sales

Read more: Rural small businesses given boost through PayPal and Buy From the Bush ecommerce platform

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Heidi Heck

Heidi Heck

Heidi Heck is a Journalist at Dynamic Business. She is a student at the University of Queensland where she studies Journalism and Economics. Heidi has a passion for the stories of small business, as well as the bigger picture of economics.

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