In the 1860s the term “Black Friday” was used in reference to stock market crashes in the USA. However, since the 1950s it has been re-coined to describe a day of shopping and so-called sales, in a trend that had thankfully eluded the UK until more recently.

And who else have we to thank for introducing Black Friday to these shores than good old Amazon, which first brought Black Friday to the UK in 2010.

Clearly keen to eeek things out even further, over the past decade retailers have also treated us to the likes of ‘Black November’, ‘Black Friday Weekend’ and ‘Cyber Monday’.

According to research by PwC, the UK is set to spend an astonishing £21 billion on Christmas presents and celebrations this year, “driven by a combination of people looking to get together for an extra special Christmas and a resurgence of interest in Black Friday, perhaps spurred on by inflation and rising prices.” That’s up 12% on last year. PwC also says that 21% of people in the UK are looking to shop earlier than usual, particularly those in younger age groups and Millennials. 

A quarter of everyone polled said they will definitely be buying during Black Friday this year, with the majority of the remainder suggesting that they are interested and may buy. But, it seems many of us shop like Homer Simpson and will more often than not be buying for ourselves, with 74% of men set to do so on Black Friday. As the report also explains: “The majority of us will buy less than a quarter of our Christmas presents during Black Friday, with a mere 3% using the event to buy all their gifts.”

This is where we get ‘boring’. Bah humbug if you will.

As your granny, auntie, mum, dad or someone else wise no doubt once told you: “A bargain is only a bargain if you need it.” Yes, incredibly, they were right about something.

Whether you are forking out for the latest tech, updating your wardrobe, or shopping for a special something for an even more special someone, don’t get sucked in.

As consumer giant Which? perfectly puts it: “The hype around Black Friday creates the impression that every offer is worth trampling over fellow shoppers to get to, with retailers slashing prices to historically low levels for one day only. But our research has found that’s rarely the case.”

It’s findings showed that 98% of the advertised discounts in 2019 were available at the same price or for less during the six months following Black Friday. Which? also highlighted that 85% of items had also been on sale at a cheaper price beforehand.

According to Statista, just under half of UK shoppers will buy items like electricals and clothing and footwear during Black Friday, while over a third of us will pick up cosmetics and health and beauty products. Not purchases renowned for their environmental credentials or being sustainable.

A 2019 report, Building a Circular Economy, released by Green Alliance, warned that up to 80% of Black Friday purchases, not to mention the deluge of (often plastic) packaging, will end up in landfill, being incinerated or as low quality recycling within a relatively short space of time.

Remember, ‘refuse’ and ‘reduce’ come first and second in the waste hierarchy and well before ‘recycling’. Simply put, try to avoid buying things that you and others don’t really need – often impulse or last-minute buys. And where you do make purchases, wherever possible, look for things that are well made and long-lasting, produced close to home, in the UK or Europe, using sustainably sourced materials or ingredients and consider the lifetime impact of those items and how they might be disposed of or recycled in the future.

For the second time this year, we are forced to quote Dr Seuss’ fictional creation, the Grinch: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means just a little bit more.”

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