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Should you boycott Black Friday?

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Written by: Emma Lunn
22/11/2021
Consumers have been urged to boycott big brands on Black Friday, shop ethically or locally, or invest the money they planned to spend instead.

Ethical Consumer says Amazon is the big winner on Black Friday and has been calling for a boycott of the online retailer since 2012 – with Amazon’s tax avoiding ways cited as the main reason.

In September 2021, Amazon – which has a market value of £1.5tn – released its tax figures for the previous year. Its key arm in the UK, Amazon UK Services paid just £3.8m more in corporation tax than in 2019 despite sales rising by £1.9bn and profits increasing to £128m.

There are regular reports that Amazon is violating workers rights by forcing long hours and poor working conditions, and employing surveillance tactics to monitor employees.

Clare Carlile, co-editor at Ethical Consumer, said, “Amazon is spending its billions on day trips to space rather than paying its fair share of taxes. It disrespects workers and threatens communities, as well as undermining public services such as the NHS. There are so many local or ethical options, which do pay a fair rate of tax, that we could be supporting instead.

“By boycotting Amazon on Black Friday, and for the rest of the year, consumers are joining a global movement that is putting pressure on Amazon and other tax avoiders to change.”

Research by loyalty experts Ello suggests that a third of Brits (34%) are set to boycott Black Friday altogether. The research found that 28% of Brits worry about the impact Black Friday is having on the environment, leading to one in five choosing not to make any purchases for this reason.

When it comes to perceptions of Black Friday, the survey of 2,000 UK consumers found that more than half (54%) believe Black Friday is just a marketing ploy, whilst a fifth (21%) think it’s typically non-premium brands that offer deals. Less than a quarter (24%) say they stay loyal to brands they shop with on Black Friday throughout the rest of the year.

Michael Kalli, managing director at Ello, said: “Consumer budgets have tightened and with the cost of living continuing to rise thanks to higher inflation, Brits are being more money savvy than ever before. As we approach the festive season, consumers are taking the time to do their research on what to buy and where from, so it’s no surprise that many choose to hold off making those bigger purchases in the run up to Black Friday in hope of bagging a bargain.

“However, many consumers are becoming wiser to so-called marketing ploys of this nature and are staying clear of Black Friday altogether.”

Invest your Black Friday money instead

Hargreaves Lansdown has looked at what would have happened if you’d sat out Black Friday last year, skipped the must-haves, and invested the cash instead. It concluded that you could be thousands of pounds better off.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “We tend to see Black Friday as a great opportunity for a bargain on the must-have items we’ve coveted all year. It feels like a sensible money-saving approach.

“However, those bargains may seem less sensible a year down the line, when the Peleton and the paddleboard have spent months gathering dust, and a big chunk of the latest tech has been superseded by something newer and shinier. Even those items that have transformed our lives, like the lockdown dog, are still soaking up our cash like a sponge.

“If you’d decided not to spend your money, and invested it instead, you could be far better off, and if you’d picked some of the runaway investment winners of the last 12 months, you could be thousands of pounds richer.”

Hargreaves Lansdown calculated that if you’d put your money into Legal & General UK 350 Index, which tracks the 350 biggest companies in the UK, your money would have risen by just under a fifth since last Black Friday, turning £500 into £590.

Coles said: “The continual financial drain of the lockdown dog means you could have been paying into the fund each month instead, leaving you with just under £1,250. And if you’d invested a combination of the huge cost of a Peleton and the ongoing cost you’d be left with around £3,240.

“If you’d happened to have chosen a fund that has performed extraordinarily well over this period, like Global Schroder Energy, instead of spending £500 on a paddleboard, you could be sitting on almost £820. And if you’d managed to pick a top performing share, like the publisher Reach, your paddleboard fund could be worth almost £1,100.”

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