Buy Nothing Day vs. Black Friday

by sockii

Will you shop 'till you drop looking for Black Friday deals? Or will you support Buy Nothing Day instead to protest over-consumerism?

For many in the America, the day after Thanksgiving means just one thing: Black Friday shopping. Even while still digesting their turkey dinners, people will awaken before the crack of dawn to line-up outside Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Macy's and other retailers to be the first inside their doors to snatch up the best so-called Christmas sales deals. Some people have even taken to camping out in parking lots, overnight or for days on end - eschewing traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in the quest for the best bargain deals.

staples black friday

Even Staples can see a rush of Black Friday madness as shoppers go crazy for office supplies and computer equipment.

Others have begun to question this crazed consumerism which has overtaken the beginning of the holiday season. The activist organization Adbusters got behind the concept of Buy Nothing Day in September 1992, first as a general critique of over-consumption. In 1997 they established Buy Nothing Day to officially be held annually on the day after Thanksgiving, as a direct challenge to and criticism of Black Friday.

Some join in active protests of Black Friday shopping and shoppers; others mark Buy Nothing Day simply by doing that: consciously buying nothing for the day. No trips to the shopping mall, no Starbucks coffee runs, no Amazon nothing, for one day.

Here is your chance to join the great debate. Do you think the holiday season has been over-commercialized? Do you support the ideas of the Buy Nothing Day campaign, or are you a diehard Black Friday shopping enthusiast? You can answer poll questions, read the arguments, and then cast your vote in the great debate: Buy Nothing Day vs. Black Friday.

Image above courtesy cohdra at

Buy Nothing Day Video Message

Why Consider Consuming and Spending Less This Christmas?

Do you agree with this video's message of protest and challenge to consumerism?

How Do You Plan to Spend the Day After Thanksgiving This Year?

Shopping Black Friday Deals, Relaxing, or Actively Protesting for Buy Nothing Day?

The Case for Buy Nothing Day

buy nothing day

Arguments in Support of Buy Nothing Day

Why Should We Protest Black Friday Shopping?

These are some of the most common arguments in support of the Buy Nothing Day campaign:

  • Western society has become too focused on consumer culture. This is no more evident than in the frenzied madness surrounding so-called "Black Friday" shopping. People become almost mindless in their pursuit of the "best deal," as if it's some kind of game and challenge, not a shopping trip to buy anything they actually "need." We already produce far too much waste and trash, and the Earth is suffering from the weight of our thoughtless consumer lifestyle.
  • People have not just been injured but even lost their lives in the stampedes and mobs rushing into stores first opening on Black Friday morning. Check out's list of The 13 Most Brutal Black Friday Injuries and Deaths. Shootings, stampedes and frenzies, some of which are shown here in graphic video. Pregnant women have miscarried, old women trampled to the ground, and one woman became paralyzed all in the quest for a "bargain." As the paralyzed woman even put it herself, "I saved 100 dollars on that computer. I've probably spent 100,000 dollars on medical bills."
  • So-called in store "deals" are often not great bargains anyway. Once you pay gas to the store and sales tax, you may not have saved anything at all versus buying an item on-line through a discounter - especially when offering free shipping! It's a marketing scam by retailers just looking to deceive shoppers into thinking they're getting a big bargain.
  • It diminishes the true meaning of not just Thanksgiving, but the entire holiday season. It has gotten to the point that some people skip Thanksgiving celebrations entirely to camp out for days - even weeks - in shopping mall parking lots to be the first ones in the door to shop on Black Friday morning. Do people really have nothing better to do with their time? Is getting a bargain on a new television or video game more important than spending quality time with family (or perhaps getting a job, so they'd have more money to spend instead of needing to "camp out for bargains"?) Why should Christmas or Hanukkah become all about giving the most mass produced gifts, instead of celebrating the spirit of these religious holidays as they were intended to be about?
  • If you are going to buy holiday gifts, you should at least buy unique crafts and support small independent businesses. When I ran an art gallery/craft store, I simply closed shop on Black Friday - because it was never a good day for our business. People were too busy rushing to the malls and the chain stores, spending all their money on generic gift products and merchandise. They weren't even thinking about buying something unique for friends and family like handcrafted jewelry, artwork, home decorations or other one-of-a-kind items. There's no way small independent business people can compete against the giant chains on Black Friday.
  • People are being forced to work in retail stores on the day after Thanksgiving, instead of relaxing with family. Retail employees can't even take a day off from work on the day after Thanksgiving - now more staff than ever is needed on Black Friday to cope with the frenzied crowds of shoppers. In fact, this year some stores such as Target are even planning on opening midnight on Friday, meaning store employees are being expected to work on Thanksgiving Day! Workers are beginning to protest such uncalled for demands on their holiday time with petitions, but it may not be enough as the Big Box Stores are ever more driven by profit and courting consumers than respecting their employees personal time and need for holiday celebrations.

Do You Believe the Holiday Season Has Become Over-Commercialized?

Have We Lost the True Meaning of the Holidays to Consumerism?

What do you think - has the holiday season become too much about commercialism, shopping, gift buying and consumer culture? Have we lost the emphasis on family, spirit and religious celebration that the holidays were meant to mark?

Has the holiday season become too much about consumerism and shopping?

Exposing Wal-Mart: Books and Studies

What is Wal-Mart Doing to America's Economy?

There is no more recognizable symbol of American consumer culture these days than Wal-Mart. Before you spend the night camped out in their parking lot, waiting for those Black Friday deals, learn more about what Wal-Mart has really meant to American consumer industry.

A "Buy Nothing" Christmas?

The Growing Campaign to "Occupy Xmas"

Since 2011, "Buy Nothing Day" has been taken by some to a new level, with the Buy Nothing Christmas Campaign.Could you commit to buying absolutely nothing at all this Christmas, and give gifts of true value instead such as quality time, love, friendship and help to others in need?Want to really take back Christmas from the corporations and consumer madness?Then check out the website for ideas, downloads, posters to print and ways to spread the word.You can also follow the hashtag #occupyxmas for more information and ideas, or read more about its history and development at wikipedia.

Buy Nothing Black Friday

What Do You Think of the Idea of a "Buy Nothing Christmas"?

Could You Do It? Would You Want To Do It?

Have you read through the Buy Nothing Christmas FAQ to fully understand the movement's goals and how to participate? If so, what do you think?

What's your opinion of the idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas?

The Case for Black Friday

108/365 ~ Black Friday

Arguments in Favor of Black Friday

Supporting the Shopping "Holiday" and Criticizing Buy Nothing Day

Black Friday has many supporters (obviously!) as well as those who find Buy Nothing Day a meaningless protest. Here are some of the common arguments and defenses for Black Friday:

  • Black Friday deals are terrific, and people use them to buy things they need. Black Friday isn't just about buying unnecessary electronic games and gadgets. Some people on very tight budgets use the shopping sales wisely to buy things they need for their everyday lives: work clothes, school clothing and supplies for their children, new computer equipment for their home business or studies - and yes, save money on gifts for the holidays. In our struggling economy, many need to save as much as they can in order to just keep up with basic necessities.
  • We need to encourage consumer spending, not discourage it. Stores are closing and employees losing jobs because of the struggling economy. People need to be active spending more money to keep struggling businesses afloat.


  • Buy Nothing Day is a meaningless protest, anyway. So protesters won't buy anything for one day. That just means they'll go out the day after and buy what they need/want instead. It doesn't do anything to really teach an overall anti-consumerist message to the general population.
  • Buy Nothing Day marginalizes those with real problems in the world. So-called over-consumerism is nothing but a first world problem, and whining about it just an exercise in navel-gazing by middle class, privileged individuals who refuse to see how well off they have it. Meanwhile millions in the world are so poor they can't even afford the basic necessities they need to survive, and BND an insult to their genuine problems and needs.
  • Some people don't want to lose a day of work. Why shouldn't retailers be open on the day after Thanksgiving? Many people could use those extra hours of work, especially if its on overtime pay to help them cover their own holiday bills and expenses.

Buy Nothing Day versus Black Friday

Which "Event" Will You Celebrate?

Now's your chance to sound off. Are you a regular Black Friday shopper? Or do you support the ideas and message behind Buy Nothing Day? Leave your opinions and thoughts here.

Which event do you support: Buy Nothing Day or Black Friday?

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Previous comments made in support of Black Friday:

(This debate was originally published on Squidoo in 2011)

anonymous 3 years ago

I rarely buy anything anymore (I make so many gifts) but I love checking out the cool deals. Last year a shopaholic friend and I went out and she did the big shopping while I paid the extra few dollars for her bonus gifts and kept those. It was a sweet deal!


Previous comments made in support of Buy Nothing Day:

rattie lm 2 years ago

A girl after my own heart! Thank you, thank you! It's time to hold back on consumerism.

tonybonura 2 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

When you get down to it, the idea of black Friday is not bad. But then you have nuts "camping out" on cold sidewalks and then a mad rush to get inside and then literal fights over merchandise. Now that's what I call STUPID!!.If I'm stepping on anyone's toes, I don't apologize. You're the one who bought into the stupid hype about this non-event.TonyB

Terrie_Schultz 2 years ago

I hate shopping in general, and I wouldn't be caught dead in a store or mall on Black Friday. I support handmade and small businesses.

paperfacets 2 years ago from La Verne, CA

On Fridays past if I was able to get scheduled at work, I earned a whopping 2 1/2 times my normal pay. That was when Black Friday helped later for the Dec. 24th last minute shopping must haves. I tend to shop late.

fugeecat lm 3 years ago

I don't like shopping on Black Friday the stores are to crowded and the deals aren't as good as everybody says.

beckyf 3 years ago

You couldn't pay me to be in a mall on Black Friday.

kingsrookie lm 3 years ago

I have no problem waiting and will refuse to take part of the madness that happens. I waited outside one year for fun, and had a good time but it was over in fifteen minutes. * hours in the cold for 15 minutes.

anonymous 3 years ago

As a Taoist, Christmas means nothing more to me than a chance to get together with friends and family and enjoy a meal together. I do not buy Christmas gifts nor do I expect any. I think our society is too materialistic as it is, and we could all do better with less.

Any Additional Comments on Buy Nothing Day vs. Black Friday? - Leave Your Final Thoughts Here!

Leave Your Final Thoughts Here!
Updated: 10/28/2018, sockii
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frankbeswick on 08/12/2015

What you are saying about cyber monday and its impact on workers points to a disparity in power, with overmuch in the hands of capitalists and too little in the hands of workers.

blackspanielgallery on 08/11/2015

Well, after Black Friday and Small Business Saturday comes Cyber Monday. Much too much. And, stores are accommodating the shoppers by opening on Thanksgiving itself, forcing workers to show up for evening and night sales. This blocks workers from travelling to be with family, since they have inadequate time to travel home and go to work.

CruiseReady on 08/05/2015

In general, I am not much of a shopper, so buy nothing day is fine with me. I went to a Black Friday sale once, a decade or so ago, and once was enough.

WriterArtist on 08/04/2015

I have to mention that I did make some good amount of sales on Squidoo on Black Friday. I don't mind buying on a Black Friday, one gets good deals. However; I would prefer to do online shopping.

frankbeswick on 08/04/2015

Black Friday was imported into England, for no good reason, as we do not have Thanksgiving here. It was a cynical attempt to boost sales. But many people were horrified at what we saw on television, with shopping hungry mobs besieging stores. We had no one killed, but there were injuries when a display at a store near me collapsed. I felt deeply concerned for the shop workers, who had no experience of dealing with this state of siege. It was clear that many were overwhelmed and scared by what was happening. Needless to say, I did not take part in this nonsense. We have not had any suggestion of a no-shopping day, but as I don't take part in Black Friday I don't need a no-shopping day as a corrective.

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