Fair Tuesday: Shop 'til you stop

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are American shopping traditions that have hit the UK. Can the ethical alternative, Fair Tuesday, cross the pond, too?

On Thursday night, all across the States, families were brought together in a post-food coma. All was still, the only activity the flickering of the television, broadcasting something suitably uplifting for Thanksgiving. However, tens of thousands of Americans had somewhere better to be. Down the shops.

Last Friday was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping event on the US calendar. The four-day weekend is a bender of orgiastic spending: according to a survey by the National Retail Federation, around 141 million adults shopped over four days, and individuals spent an average of $407 (£248) over the weekend. Total spending was expected to hit $57.4 billion last night.

And many shops – for example, the behemothic Macy's – start their sales at 8pm on Thanksgiving night. Discounts and incentives are aggressive, much like the shoppers. Last year, two people were shot in Tallahassee, Florida, in a dispute over a parking space. In 2008, a New York Walmart employee was trampled by a crowd of 2,000 shoppers storming in when the superstore opened at 5am. This year, there were stabbings in a Virginia car park. Customers tweeted videos of carnage. Thanksgiving has been nicknamed "Gray Thursday", suggesting its bleak transformation from family gathering to another day at the mall, where it's every man for himself.

There's barely time to breathe before Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year. Physical casualties are fewer but bank accounts take a bashing: last year, US sales reached $1,465billion, up 17 per cent from 2011.

And it didn't just happen in the States: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are overwhelming and over here. On Friday, British retailers slashed prices to encourage customers. Asda, inspired by parent Walmart, whipped up the frenzy using the hashtag #asdablackfriday. Shoppers cleared one branch in Benton, North Tyneside, of bargain electricals in minutes, compelled by tablets priced at £49. A shopper was arrested in Bristol after a row about televisions. Goliaths such as Apple and Amazon extended Black Friday advertising to the UK, hoping to replicate profits exacted in the States. Last year Amazon UK took more than 3.5 million orders on Cyber Monday – around 41 items per second. This year, total profits are expected to hit £10billion.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday now have huge significance here in the UK," explains Rob Hodges, mobile expert at Mobiles.co.uk. "With major supermarkets promoting Black Friday and Cyber Monday with TV advertising, these sale days are now truly mainstream [despite being] in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving."

While consumerism is sweetened by cartoon tales of hares and bears, for some the pill is too bitter: #FairTuesday, an ethical-shopping movement, counters the consumerism.

"#FairTuesday was not created to compete with Black Friday and Cyber Monday," insists Ksenia Avdulova, one of its founders. "Instead, it's supposed to provide an alternative to holiday shopping and beyond. Rarely do we think about where our goods come from. That's what got me thinking about using the power of social media to create a movement that would educate and inspire to buy ethically-sourced gifts."

#FairTuesday was founded in October 2012 on a wave of social networking noise. This year, it crowdfunded in order to formalise the initiative, which encourages people to buy a single, conscientious gift – for example, something from a small, independent business, or with a sustainable supply chain – rather than piles of tat from big-name retailers.

Unfortunately, while tablets are priced at £49 and shoppers are targeted by aggressive advertising, our lot seems predetermined. Not a very fair fight, is it?

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat