Introducing Black Friday into Europe has been an act of self-harm

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If protests persuade stores to cut back on the crazy, margin-destroying US shopping tradition, both the planet and profitability will benefit

A sign for Black Friday sales in a shop in Caen, northwestern France, on November 27 2019. Picture: AFP/SAMEER AL-DOUMY

To recap: Black Friday first reared its ugly head in the UK around the start of the decade when local chains responded to Amazon.com Inc.’s unleashing of post-Thanksgiving discounts onto the British public. The trend hit continental Europe later, but French and German have retailers have stepped up their participation over the past few years.

Ecology minister Elisabeth Borne has weighed in, warning people about the pollution generated by Black Friday between all of the extra delivery runs and packaging. “We can’t at the same time call for a reduction in greenhouse gases and call for a consumer frenzy like that,” she said. Determining which is greener is not straightforward. There is some academic evidence to suggest that shopping online is actually more sustainable. But that is not always the case. When a whole range of factors are taken into account, including returns, ultra-fast delivery, subscription programmes that encourage repeat purchases, collecting parcels by car and showrooming — where customers travel to stores to evaluate products before ordering — the picture is far less clear cut.

 

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