Black Friday 2020: out goes consumerism, in comes altruism

This Friday is Black Friday, the time when shopping sanely goes out of the window in place of monumental mania with deals determined to make us buy things we probably don’t need. But this year, we’ve spotted a definite shift in attitude with many retailers declaring themselves out of the discounting race and instead, participating in more purpose-led initiatives. The result of a kinder post-pandemic world perhaps? We take a look at some of the more interesting acts from brands big and small that are putting planet and people before profit.

Ikea’s Buy Back Friday

First off the block is Ikea. No stranger to sustainability initiatives, this year they’re turning Black Friday into Buy Back Friday. A brilliantly original scheme which meets the needs of customers and contributes to a circular economy. It works like this: got an old Billy bookcase you no longer need? Or a Poäng chair you’ve no longer room for? Ikea will buy it back from you and find a new home for it. Fill out a form, get an estimate, drop it off at your local store, and after inspection you’ll be issued with Ikea credit to spend on something else. What’s more, if you’re an Ikea Family member, you’ll get double the buy back amount. 

We think this is a brilliant idea, and surely something they’ll continue with after Black Friday. But it’s a good idea to check your furniture for icky stains as naturally, they won’t take back anything that’s not in a resalable condition.


Everlane’s plastic pledge

In a totally different act of altruism, Everlane has teamed up with ocean conservationists Oceana to help save the world’s seas from plastic. For every order placed this Black Friday, Everlane will donate $15 to Oceana. That’s quite a sizeable amount… but then they’re aiming high, with a target of $300,000 – enough to fund a full year of campaigns to put an end to single-use plastic in three major markets. Time to get ordering guys.

Ethical Superstore’s Foodbank Friday

At the other end of the brand scale we spotted a great initiative from Newcastle-based Ethical Superstore, an online eco shop that sells everything from planet-friendly bin bags to wind-up solar radios. This Black Friday they’re donating an item of food to the Newcastle West End Food Bank with every purchase over £30. To encourage orders, they’re offering 20% off, site wide on the day. So, you get a deal, and a person in need gets food. It’s local community spirit at its best, and win-win all round.

Deciem’s Black Friday boycott

Finally, in perhaps the boldest stand against consumerism taken by any big brand, Canadian beauty company Deciem will, for the second year running, boycott Black Friday completely, shutting its stores and its website. Instead, it’s offering a 23% discount throughout the whole month of November, which is the amount they calculated would have the same impact on the their bottom line as if they deeply discounted selected items for a few days. What’s more, they’re rebranding November as Knowvember. As a call to arms that skincare purchases should be based on education over impulse, Knowvember will offer a packed schedule of educational content each day on the Deciem website. It’s all part of the brand’s move towards encouraging us to ‘shop slowly’. And it’s paying off; last November when it initiated its first Black Friday boycott, Deciem saw a whopping 200% month-on-month lift in sales.

Deciem - Knowvember

Give rather than take

So, after a year where we’ve all been forced to reflect on what’s really important, will 2020 see the tide finally start to turn on Black Friday? We think yes. An event which encourages hyper-consumerism, we’re all waking up to the fact it’s just not working for our planet anymore. As Deciem co-founder and CEO Nicola Kilner so wisely puts it,“the reality is that if you wouldn’t pay full price for it, it’s probably not something that you truly did need in the first place.” Hear hear.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Let's Talk Shop.

Get the monthly scoop from Whippet on notable happenings from the world of retail and beyond.



7 Holyrood Street


231 Moray Street
South Melbourne 
Victoria 3205

Love talking shop?
So do we.

Get our latest insights on retail from around the globe, straight to your inbox, every month.