Some years ago, we were watching Black Friday features in the French news on TV, looking at how people in the US were queuing up in front of closed doors, then running and fighting to access giant TV screens on sales. I remembered, back then, we made fun of them. The concept of sales so great that you can be punched in the face by your neighbour for a discounted cooking appliance, remains somehow totally absurd, after all.
Years later people laughed a lot less when French people invaded their own shops with the same idea in mind: buying for a lot less, even things they do not need. Black Friday made its way through Europe, the same way as Halloween decorations joined the aisles of our supermarkets despite being an American tradition.
Zug, Switzerland, is no exception it seems. This week windows have changed their decorations (hiding the Advent calendars that had been there since October already), and you could smell a certain frenzy in fast-fashion shops to re-arrange (meaning, taking out from the old, dusty boxes, the items that had not sold during the last sales).
Are you ready to find the best offers behind the plastic-made curtains or behind your computer? I don't think so.
Let's look at some common sense reasons:
first of all, like any other sale, Black Friday plays with your psychology: there is obviously nothing more exciting than buying limited editions stuff at reduced prices, for a very limited time. The thrill is there, you are making a good deal obviously, better than the one you could ghave made the previous day. But remember that the best savings you do are related to the things you actually do not buy. Annoyingly logic.
It has been observed that some brands do not provide real discounts to customers: prices will be slightly increased prior to Black Friday, in order for the discount to look bigger. At the end, either you have not saved much, or even at all. Well done.
Such sales are pushing brands to produce even more, as long as there is demand for it. Unnecessary production leads to unnecessary extra waste, emissions, and all negative side effects extreme consumption pushes for.
a large share of Black Friday sales is taking place online, meaning that delivery processes and the related emissions will largely increase over 24-48h. A French association has been blocking an Amazon warehouses to criticize staff working conditions and alarming on the awful environmental impact of the giant platform.
So this is what you can see in Zug, with the promise for amazing discounts.
I will have a look and see what I can find - so far I have seen a lot of unsold clothes being parked ready in some shops’ corners and a bunch of stickers to be added on labels. As I will be in Metalli at 9 when the shopping center opens, let’s see if people are really waiting and jumping onto each other to buy.
What are then the alternatives?
Some rands have looked into Green Friday to promote sustainable/reusable/zero-waste items. Again, the best that can happen is no shopping at all, so beware of plain greenwashing: buying eco-friendly products still makes you shop.
Dans ma culotte on the other hand has launched the Red Friday to raise awareness on menstrual precariousness. Along other associations, the organization specialized in the making of reusable, cloth-based hygienic pads will donate 1000 of its products to Regles Elementaires, and calls for donation of hygienic items in Paris. After 60 hours of collection, kits will be prepared and donated to women in need.
The day after - The Black Friday morning edits
So, as planned I stopped by Metalli in the morning and had a look around. People were waiting at Interdiscount, Bodum had placed "-35% until Monday" stickers, and Zara was proudly showing off its -40% on items with pink labels.
The Spanish fast-fashion shop was very busy for a Friday morning before 10am, it was surprising to say. I was actually even more surprised to see that the sales were working: people were queuing to pay for a lot of items, that I indeed recognized as old, unsold collections. I had a look myself at a dress that I had spotted a few days ago: good quality, right cut, right size. I found it back in the aisle and aimed to pay....until I notice the stains on the back of it, which obviously I had not spotted earlier because, well, I do not have eyes on my back and I want to trust that new clothes are, well again, new. Bye bye little dress and clearly no regrets whatsoever over Black Friday in Zug.