Black Friday is close... the singles are closer!

Black Friday Madness WOMB Hong Kong Conscious Consumption

He is still some weeks away, but his prophecy is already palpable...
Nope! Not talking about Baby Jesus yet, we will be tackling another giant today: awaited by the shopping masses, feared by the floor staff, anticipated by data-scientists hungry for more numbers for consumption analytics. BLACK FRIDAY, ladies and gentlemen!

Is Black Friday a thing in Asia?

... you may ask, and very rightfully so! The short and simple answer would be: it is not. "Black Friday" is a US-phenomenon, as it refers to the day after Thanksgiving. Just like the human race has evolved, so has Black Friday, and now, instead of being one shopping-day it has become a shopping cavalcade spreading from the Thanksgiving Day through "Cyber Monday", 3 days after "Black Friday". Even though some European countries are catching up on the trend (the UK proved to be the world's second-biggest shopper in 2017's Thanksgiving retail galore), the US is still the leader. So why is this even relevant in Asia? Ah yes, it's all because of the fast-approaching Chinese "Single's Day"! Less than a week from now on November 11th, we will be witnessing the Chinese retail bonanza. In a country with 200 million single people (data source: World Economic Forum) the solo-riders are encouraged to treat themselves with one (or few) self-purchases. Encouraged by the media as well as printed and digital ads, last year the singles went crazy and spent 25 billion US Dollars during that one day. Like a one-day retail flashmob, "Single's Day" in 2017 generated more turnover than the "Cyber Weekend" spendings of shoppers in the US, Canada and Europe combined. Once again, China left other players behind.

Break a leg! (No, literally…)

While Chinese single shoppers manage their purchases from their smartphones, sitting in cosy corners of their couches with ice-cream or bubble-tea on the sofa-table, the shopping experience in Europe and the US is more… physical!
We are not kidding you! Over the years, Black Friday has led to 111 injuries and 10 deaths with people being stamped to death, and in 2013, an eleven-year-old girl ended in a hospital after being hurt in Walmart. Cases of shoppers using pepper-spray against each other have also been reported.


What is happening to us? The opportunity to buy cheap stuff turns us into violent, unsympathetic creatures, ready to stamp other people to death just to get a bargain? What is the value of… things compared to the value of other humans? The same applies to the value behind the items we buy. Since WOMB’s early days we’ve been trying to tell people that the price of mass-manufactures goods rarely mirrors the cost of their production. Cruelty, suffering, disrespect and pain are a part of the mass-manufacturing process, and the world’s constantly growing demand for more, only pushes the manufacturers to produce faster and cheaper.
Cutting down production costs and bringing the whole process even more up to speed at the same time provokes unethical solutions: long working hours, minimal breaks, minimal or none maternity leaves, working in facilities that aren’t ready ready or at all suitable for use; the list goes on.

So… What can be done about unethical production?

Instead of waiting for governments or multinational companies to adopt and proclaim conscious production, we need to look at our own consumption. Think globally, act locally - as simple as that!
If no one showed up at Walmart on Black Friday, if no one clicked the “Buy Now” button on China’s Singles’ Day, that would send a stronger message than anything else. Since we, as consumers keep demanding the cheap solutions, keep pushing for more items, more trends, more collections all delivered to our doorstep ASAP, we cannot expect the companies, the giants to change their behavior.

A tip for your next Black Friday

… isn’t a one-day tip at all. It’s a call to you all out there, because we are all consumers. We all need clothes, we all need soaps and deodorants (if you don’t good on you!), we all need a blanket to cover ourselves with. But what we need - and do not need - is often overshadowed by what we want, crave and demand right here right now. A call for next Black Friday, a call for your next retail-trip really, is a call to slow down; think twice. Maybe re-read one of our previous posts with a few tips to what to ask yourself before purchasing your next item, piece of clothing or even a gift for someone else.

Shop slowly and shop mindfully, and of course, make sure no one is at your feet, being stamped unconscious when you enter a store on a Friday few weeks ahead from now…