Why brands are closing their doors, and not offering sales on Black Friday


Black Friday is marked down and circled on the calendar of many retailers, large and small, across Australia. Taking place on 25 November this year – with sales often extending to Cyber Monday on 28 November – the tradition can bring in significant windfalls for local businesses, with the Australian Retailers Association forecasting sales of $6.2 billion, a $200 million increase on the previous year. With about a quarter of Christmas shopping completed during the week of Black Friday, as per

as per the ARA report, a number of companies have gotten in on the act.

But, not all retailers are joining in on the sales frenzy, citing environmental and ethical concerns. 

An alternative approach that has taken off recently is Green Friday. Created by Click Frenzy co-founder Peter Krideras to minimise wastage and offer a more eco-conscious shopping experience, the four-day event provides discounts and offers from more than 100 sustainability-focused brands.

Meanwhile, other brands are coming up with new initiatives, and turning their back on the concept altogether.

Byron Bay clothing and lifestyle brand Spell used to partake in Black Friday sales, but has since opted out, telling The Australian Financial Review last year that the event seemed to be becoming more gluttonous. As such, they prioritised adding value for customers, rather than just getting rid of inventory.

Specialty outdoor retailer Rei Outdoors is another that has denounced the tradition. Since 2015, the brand has closed its stores while still paying employees. But from this year on, it will also close its distribution centres, activity centres, call centres and headquarters as part of its opt outside movement.

Alohas – a fashion brand that emphasises sustainability – has also boycotted the day. On its website, it encourages customers to say no to the event. The reasons it lists include: overproduction, impulse buying, pricing tricks and too many purchases in a single week.

But the brand does offer sales which, it says, aren’t discounts, but rewards for shopping online.

“Our customers were left disappointed”

Another brand that is not participating in Black Friday is skincare and beauty company Deciem, the parent company of brands including The Ordinary and Niod.

It has instead adopted Slowvember, offering 23 per cent discounts on The Ordinary and NIOD online as well as in its freestanding stores, for the entire month of November.

This aim of this approach is to discourage impulse buying, and encourage slow and thoughtful purchases based on education and discovery.

Deciem co-founder and CEO Nicola Kilner told Inside Retail that Black Friday leaves consumers wondering whether they are  being offered value, or being led astray by complicated price amendments.

“In the past, Deciem had taken part in conventional Black Friday promotions, discounting a small selection of products, for a limited amount of time. This approach caused a rush to purchase, everything sold out too quickly, and many of our customers were left disappointed,” she said.

“Encouraging people to buy things they may not need creates hyper consumerism, and is not people or planet-friendly. So on reflection, we knew we needed to make a change, and have done so for the past four years.”

She explains that the Slowvember campaign is an antidote to Black Friday, and allows time for research, reflection and consideration before purchase. The brand won’t offer transactions on the date, and will instead feature ‘Slowvember TV’ content across its website and social channels.

This includes behind the scenes of its labs, in-store wreath making and content that busts myths perpetuated by the murkiness of clean beauty.

“Since its birth, Deciem has petitioned for a more transparent dialect with consumers through an education first approach to skincare,” she said.

“This education-first approach will lead the narrative of Slowvember.”

Unnecessary Noise

Sustainable knitwear brand Mia Fratino decided last year to pause its online stores on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as it drives mass consumption and retail hysteria. 

Co-founder Amy Jones told Inside Retail that it refused to layer on more unnecessary noise and pressures for customers to scroll through. It instead sent the message to slow down, buy less and choose well.

“We don’t price our garments with additional margins so they can be slashed for end of season run-out sales. It’s about being respectful of the customer and not trying to manipulate them with false margin cuts. Our prices are honest and transparent,” Jones said.

Kilner believes there are strategies that businesses can adopt to increase foot traffic and sales during Black Friday, while still encouraging customers to think carefully about purchases.

“A positive aspect of offering a month-long 23 per cent discount is that it increases footfall throughout the entire month, and not just on one day,” she said.

“It [can] encourage multiple trips into the store, [and] word of mouth from friends and family to venture into a Deciem store to experience a full consultation.

“Creating this trust [can] lead to retaining a new customer into the future.”

Giving back to customers

According to Kilner, it’s undeniable that Black Friday is heavily dictated by consumerist culture.

But she explains that the day, if done correctly, can offer assistance during the cost-of-living crisis.

Having the approach of “we are here if you’d like us, and we are offering you savings” is very different from “you have to buy from us now, only because things are less expensive,” she said.

She adds that not offering customers products they don’t want or need  is a way for brands to give back.

“[It] can make such a difference in terms of ethics and sustainability,” she said.


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