Controversy is not new to Black Friday, especially during recent years as Black Friday retail events have “creeped” earlier and earlier to start on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, over 1 million people shared a badge on Facebook promising not to shop on Thanksgiving in a stand to give employees the ability to spend time with their families and friends during the holiday. Boycotts of Black Friday served to protest the materialistic culture where consumers trample over each other – literally – in a mad scramble to grab the best deal item.
That said, Black Friday boycotts have remained largely a fringe movement, but lately the tide has started to turn. Black Friday has become a mouthpiece for economic activism, and it makes sense: boycotting the largest retail spending day of the year is bound to grab attention. It explains why WalMart employees are poised for a strike on Black Fridayas part of a long battle to raise wages.
This year, however, Black Friday is entrenched in more controversy than ever. In the wake of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, public outcry has sparked protests across the nation. A social media movement encouraging economic protest has gained traction by declaring a spending boycott from November 27 to December 2.
Hashtags such as #BoycottBlackFriday, #BlackOutBlackFriday, #HandsUpDontSpend, and#NotOneDime are trending on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, helped along by celebrities likeTyrese Gibson and Jesse Williams. The outcry reflects growing sentiment that citizens believe their money is more impactful than just their voices.
The effect of the #NotOneDime movement remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that this year’s Black Friday boycott has taken on a much more serious cultural significance. Whether this will affect the year’s biggest retail weekend – and how businesses will respond to the backlash, if at all – is not yet clear. We’ll simply have to wait and see.