It seems traces of American culture are slowly creeping into our Australian way of life. First it was Halloween filling our social media feeds with over the top costumes and elaborate beauty looks. Now it’s the Black Friday sales. Lately every time I open my email or scroll through Facebook someone is telling me to get ready for Black Friday because a bargain is coming.
In America, Black Friday and its sister, Cyber Monday, mean big business. This four-day weekend retail bonanza kicks off the holiday season, with 30% of the entire seasons sales taking place on Black Friday. In 2016, a staggering 101.7 million people braved the crowds to shop on Black Friday with 137 million people shopping across the entire four-day weekend.
So from an economic standpoint, it’s no wonder Australian retailers are jumping on board the Black Friday sale train.
Today fast fashion retailer H&M opened the doors of its Canberra Centre store conveniently in time for Black Friday. As I watched a video posted by The Canberra Times taking the viewer on a sneak peek of the massive two-storey space the night before the store was set to open, certain phrases in the commentary kept jumping out at me. ‘There is lots of stock’, ‘I can see 50% off signs’, ‘ we have plenty of stock’, ‘we are having a Black Friday sale’, ‘we will get three drops of stock a week’.
Having just written a book on ethical and sustainable fashion, and having decided to make a change in my own life regarding the way I consume it, hearing these, which for most people would be rather innocuous phrases, had me seething. I couldn’t help imagining majority of these cheap clothes being bought on a whim, worn once or twice and then ending up in landfill.
The problem with a sale and indeed the broader fast fashion industry is that it is built on making us feel like we need to be constantly consuming. Retailers want to make us feel like we are missing out on sales and special offers and that our lives will be better if we just bought that dress. This feeling of FOMO is massively increased when a sale is on, leading many of us to rush into purchases we may not otherwise have made.
So how do we avoid getting caught up in the frenzy?
In a recent article from ethical fashion advocate Good on You, the organisation recommends asking yourself three questions and I’m going to do the same.
Before you pull out your credit card to make that purchase take a moment to ask yourself:
- How much will I wear it?
- How much do I already own?
- How long will it last?
If it’s something you actually need, isn’t like something you already own and is going to last you a couple of years then go for it. If not, put it back and walk away. I can bet that after a couple of hours you will have likely forgotten you even wanted it all.