- Marjorie van Elven |
Joining Black Friday, the American discounting frenzy that is slowly taking over other countries, may seem like a win-win situation. By offering generous discounts, retailers can attract new customers and increase earnings by selling larger quantities than usual, right? Well, not so much. While some retailers earn more during Thanksgiving weekend than they do the rest of the year, others are opting out of the occasion or celebrate it in ways that don’t involve heavy markdowns -- either because the strategy isn’t so advantageous for the business, or because the brand identity doesn’t go well with excess consumerism.
Take American outdoor brand REI, for example. The company has made headlines for its #OptOutside campaign, currently on its fourth edition. It basically consists in closing the doors of their stores on Black Friday and inviting customers to enjoy some time outside with friends and family instead. All REI employees are also given a paid day off. “Since launching #OptOutside, we’ve watched more than 200 retailers go out of business. It has been a period of enormous change in retail. We’ve stayed healthy partly because we’ve stuck with our core values”, said REI’s CEO and President, Jerry Stritzke, to the website BestBlackFriday.com.
Everlane, the American brand best known for its basics, is also turning Black Friday into something else. The label has set up a “Black Friday” fund, donating all profits to building an organic farm in Vietnam, where it says unregulated pesticide use is “way out of control”. The farm will provide meals for the employees of the local denim factory Everlane works with.
French footwear company Veja is perhaps the most vocal in its disapproval of Black Friday. Best known for its use of organic materials and trade fair sourcing, the label works with cooperatives of small producers and social associations in Brazil and France. This week, Veja took to Facebook to announce customers can no longer expect discounts from them. “We took part during the last 3 years, playing ‘smart’ and proposing our old collections and samples but never the current collection. But we felt bad every time. We felt bad because we don’t like this craziness”, wrote Veja on its fanpage. The label added that it “respects” retailers who are “playing" with the date by doing things such as donating all their profits to NGOs, but it prefers to simply not play the game anymore.
Pictures: REI Facebook, Veja Facebook, Everlane Facebook