Changing consumer’s consciousness toward Black Friday
Since the covid-19 happened in 2020, many consumers have shifted to online shopping rather than going to physical stores. In the context of this move, a lot of stores tend to close their real stores and hold sales only in their online stores on the black holiday.
What’s more, many stores had already started the Black Friday sale in early November this year, and also the spanning of the holiday discount event is extended over 2 weeks.
However, do you think the Black Friday sale itself is still attractive as a special event for consumers if the sale period is getting extended in this way?
In addition, with an increasing number of consumers paying close attention to ethical consumption, the concept of holiday sales is becoming incompatible with people’s values.
This holiday season, notwithstanding the fact that brands were dealing with a glut of excess products, early results show that most apparel discounts weren’t exceeding 33%. Furthermore, according to a joint global report by DataFeedWatch and cart.com., 30% of products across all product categories were already on sale in the first week of November.
Rachel Arthur, sustainability consultant and founder of sustainability platform FashMash, said “Black Friday is the epitome of everything that’s ultimately wrong with consumption. There is, of course, an element of necessity for businesses to do sales and move stock, but markdowns just to shift product plays into the overproduction problem.”
“Excess inventory” is the reason Black Friday sales have moved from October to November, said Shawn Grain Carter, luxury branding and retail industry consultant and associate professor of fashion business management at the Fashion Institute of Technology. This is because consumer demand has weakened as rising inflation and bank interest rates have forced consumers to hold onto their dollar. Clothing store inventories in September 2022 are up 24.1% from a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data.
Brands fighting Black Friday Sale
To counter the inventory sale move, some brands have begun to ditch the Black Friday sale.
Several lifestyle brands, including Swiss bag brand Freitag and British fashion brand Raeburn, had partnered to host anti-consumption events over the Thanksgiving weekend. Especially, Freitag was conducting a swap campaign with the slogan “S.W.A.P. Friday 2022” and “We’re changing Black Friday from a shopping to a swapping day.” Elisabeth Isenegger, a Freitag representative stated that there are few things that have less in common with the circular economy than Black Friday. We prefer to focus on long-lasting products and sensible services and refuse to get involved in wasteful discount battles.”
At the same time, the brand’s website carries the following message: Under the motto “Don’t shop, just S.W.A.P.”, the FREITAG Online Store will be closed on Black Friday, and you’ll be redirected straight to our S.W.A.P. bag exchange platform. In addition, they also conducted a physical campaign called “INVITATION TO THE F-STORE: S.W.A.P. FRIDAY 2022”, in which brand customers were able to join the face-to-face swap session to come with their bags and join them for a drink at the FREITAG Stores. This kind of brand campaign against Black Friday sales has been ongoing since 2019.
As another example, the British fashion brand Raeburn hosted clothing repair workshops during thanksgiving weekend instead of discounts. The brand had also partnered with the circular fashion platform Responsible and offered a service to buy unwanted items from customers instead of selling new season items to them. The Responsible team evaluated items brought in by customers on the spot, and customers received the purchase price in Responsible store credit or cash. The purchased items will be resold at Responsible stores, and the flow is to circulate the products for a longer period of time. So they are trying to breathe into a product’s second life by reselling the purchased products at Responsible stores.
Sustainable sneaker brand, Cariuma’s effort was also novel. Instead of slashing prices to encourage consumption, they increased the number of trees it plants for each pair of shoes sold from one to ten.
Vestiaire Collective bans fast fashion
Regardless of many brands going against the custom of Black Friday sales and calling for sustainable consumption behavior, excess inventory shoots up mainly among fast fashion brands. As a result, a French fashion resale platform Vestiaire Collective announced on November 22, 2022, that they banned fast fashion from their platform, as the items have no resale value.
Reference article: Vestiaire Collective bans fast fashion brands
“Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to share an activist message with our global community and beyond. Fast fashion stands for the exact opposite of what we believe in,” said Dounia Wone, Vestiaire Collective’s chief impact officer. She added, “At Vestiaire, we treasure craftsmanship and durability, and we think the industry should produce less and higher quality items. There is no value in fast fashion, even in resale. By banning fast fashion brands from the platform when Black Friday is [top of mind], we are reinforcing the notion of buying quality over quantity and encouraging our community to invest in craftsmanship at better prices.”
With this recent tendency, many more sustainable brands will move against overstocking and Black Friday sales from now on.