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Does it still make sense to talk about Black Friday?

Between perennial discounts and environmental dilemmas, shopping day has lost its appeal

Does it still make sense to talk about Black Friday? Between perennial discounts and environmental dilemmas, shopping day has lost its appeal

If in the past you have been tempted by the idea of a 10% discount in exchange for a subscription to a newsletter, you know very well how this time of year can become particularly stressful for your inbox. Punctual as ever, Black Friday emails have become a routine for anyone who frequents online shops of any kind with a certain regularity, ready to bombard us with emails with more or less tempting discounts. If those shouted percentages can be tempting at first, what is now evident is that Black Friday is no longer what it used to be. "Just a few years ago, missing Black Friday became a cause for anxiety and concern," agency PwC had commented in 2019. "Now it looks more like a symbolic moment than a truly influential one in our shopping." In the first Black Friday since the end of pandemic restrictions, retailers see a perfect pre-Christmas springboard toward a hoped-for increase in sales, relying largely on the shopping appetite of those who have been confined to their homes for more than a year.

As BoF points out, the prospect of a first "family" Christmas could lead to unexpected "revenge shopping," something many online retailers have apparently factored in: according to Salesforce, online discounting this Black Friday is 16% lower than last year, while prices are up 12%. Caught up in the anxiety of not receiving their gifts in time, many have started their Christmas shopping ahead of time by unexpectedly accelerating in what has become a passive date with shopping. Despite the encouraging numbers spoiled by the pandemic, in recent years Black Friday has been swallowed up by the vortex of the perennial online discounts, passing from the status of "unmissable moment of the year" to that of a transitional moment in which to passively watch the proposals of your favorite retailer in the hope of finding something remotely attractive.

But in a world made up of 24/7 online shopping, where discounts and promotions are now the order of the day, the strength of Black Friday has disappeared in the face of the need to empty the warehouses in what has now become a marathon that starts at the beginning of October and then flows into Cyber Monday in a Christmas slide that leads directly to the first sales of the year. In the age of fashion consciousness, Black Friday seems almost anachronistic, an old shopping dinosaur from which many brands are gradually distancing themselves by choosing totally different approaches. Last year Noah decided to close its online store as a sign of protest during Black Friday, as well as Patagonia that chose to welcome its e-shop customers with the message "Thank you for not shopping". While buying habits seem to continue to reward more and more the vintage, the shopping day par excellence, with its videos of clumsy Americans who lose their dignity in order to grab a television in super-discount, are now a distant memory, erased from our memory by an overpriced electric broom that you have seen on Amazon.