Why I’m Not Promoting Black Friday Sales

For the first time in StyleWise history, I am choosing not to compile a Black Friday Sales post this year.

woman stands in red sweater with tote bag looking at items on clothing rack - not promoting Black Friday

There are a lot of people in the sustainable fashion niche who swore off Black Friday and Cyber Monday posts years ago. And their reasons were good:

  • Black Friday promotes frantic and reactive consumerism that leads to overconsumption and binging behaviors.
  • Sales are not a viable option for many ethical and sustainable small businesses.
  • Shopping seasonal sales takes away from family time and relaxation.
  • The media frenzy around Black Friday reveals something ugly about our society.

All of these things are self evident.

Some of them are also edging toward classism. At least part of the reason so many of us scramble to shop major sales around this time of year is because we cannot afford the things we want or need at full price.

This is the reason I have never worried too much about sharing sales, especially from ethical and sustainable brands, which tend to be more expensive in the first place.

Black Friday Sales Are Often Fake

But this year, the tides have turned for me. For one, it’s well attested that many of the most popular Black Friday sales aren’t actually the best sale of the year.

That’s because many companies inflate their retail prices before advertising a big sale. In effect, they make the same amount of money on the item and you think you’ve scored a great deal.

Buying Ethical Goods Doesn’t Make My Purchase Ethical

The smaller brands who offer legitimate sales are still a good option if you’ve been eyeing something from them for months.

But I am increasingly wary of purchasing from small, artisan companies myself. What I have found is that I get sucked in to the “do good” marketing and make purchases that don’t suit me or my lifestyle.

I’m tired of letting “fair trade” and “sustainable” clothing, shoes, and accessories pile up in my closet. It just doesn’t lead to the kind of radical change we need to get a handle on climate change, the clothing waste crisis, and exploitation in the garment industry.

What I’m Doing Instead

I actually have the great fortune of being able to see lots of friends and family this year. I’m going to focus on them instead of on promotional emails.

As far as sales are concerned, I already made my two purchases: I stocked up on full length jeans and socks (read: seasonal clothing) from a company that consistently fits me, and took advantage of an Early Bird sale for a deodorant I like.

If you want to shop sales this time of year, I do have some advice:

  1. Pay attention to “Early Black Friday Sales” now, especially on clothing and accessories. There’s a good chance the purchase price is as good or better than the Black Friday price, even if the percent off is lower. This is because brands modify their retail pricing to make sales appear better to customers.
  2. Shop online. Use the “Save for Later” button and routinely come back to see if prices have gone down. Once the prices look particularly good, make your purchase. If the item goes on further discount later, you can always ask for a price adjustment, or return the item and re-purchase at the lower price.
  3. This weekend is when many retailers mark down items to their lowest point in the season. Don’t hesitate to shop now if the sale is compelling.
  4. Be body and mind aware. Take your time to discern what you really want and need instead of letting marketing create urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out). Don’t make purchases when you’re tired or hungry. Put things in your cart for at least 12 hours to avoid impulse purchases.

Best of luck and may peace be with you this sale season.

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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