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The Black Friday conundrum

  • 4 min read

Black Friday: Why we're choosing to participate.


Black Friday hit the UK in full force in 2014 with small and large retailers running promotions in order to encourage consumers to spend, spend, spend – and not just on the day itself! A little like Christmas, the Black Friday "festivities" seem to get longer year on year, with Black Friday no longer considered a day of deals but a fortnight.

We are a sustainable business who pride ourselves on having incredibly strong ethics. So... when it comes to Black Friday we face an interesting dilemma. Black Friday is considered to be highly unsustainable - it has a growing reputation for excessive consumption and greed. We've all seen the crazy videos of stampedes - thousands of wild-eyed bargain hunters trampling over each other to fill their trolleys with TVs and vacuums by the dozen. Not a great watch if you're looking to restore faith in humanity. So, by its very nature Black Friday is incompatible with what we do and everything we represent. Or is it?

The Anti Black Friday Movement


The way businesses approach Black Friday varies considerably. Despite the fact that Black Friday continues to grow (£1.4bn was spent online in the UK last year, 11.7% up from 2016) the number of businesses choosing to opt out is also growing. 

Large and small companies across the globe are shunning Black Friday, but their approaches are very different. Some keep prices exactly the same, maintaining that they offer great deals all year round, so why would Black Friday be any different? Some choose to double their prices - and other campaigns encourage you to simply buy nothing at all, in a protest against the excessive consumption that Black Friday has come to represent. 

LCP Consulting says "The majority of UK retailers claim that Black Friday is margin erosive and unprofitable". However, perceived competitive pressure leads many to honour the tradition despite the prospect of short-term losses and the potential for disruptions to the business." 

Why is Black Friday considered unsustainable?

  • It encourages over-consumption
  • It encourages cheap consumption - and someone in the production chain is often having to pay that cost
  • Black Friday is frantic and frenzied. Pretty much the antithesis of the conscious, considered approach that we take here at UpCircle!
  • It is actually unprofitable for most businesses
  • Black Friday usually hurts small independent businesses as they cannot compete with the larger firms due to their higher cost base
  • More shopping, means more transport, packaging, emissions etc.

So... after that... why have we decided to participate in Black Friday. Is it possible to do Black Friday ‘right’? Here is our logic. 

  1. As a company we are trying to maximise our positive impact on the world. We want to see an UpCircle product in every home. We genuinely believe that our products are better than mainstream alternatives due to their sustainability credentials – our company is vegan, cruelty-free, upcycled, organic, 99% plastic free, handmade and all natural. If by honouring Black Friday we convert one consumer who has been on the side-lines about our brand into a loving loyal customer, then we're one step closer to achieving our bigger mission.
  2. Our discount is one which is sustainable for us. We are offering a discount that we as a business can absorb. We want to offer customers the opportunity to buy our products at a lower price than any other time of the year, but not to the extent that it is to the detriment of our brand's progression.
  3. We are personally absorbing the full cost of Black Friday. Nobody further down our supply or production chain is taking the hit. We have seen brands offering 70% + discounts. We can't and won't offer price cuts that extreme. It does not align with our ethics. It also begs the question - if you can afford to price cut that much, are you charging too much in the first place??
  4. Consumer trends would indicate that people wait until Black Friday to purchase items that they have been planning to purchase for a while (presents, repeat products etc.). As such, Black Friday orders are usually larger in quantity (number of products) than normal orders. This is GOOD. It means that instead of shipping 4 products over 3 months they all go in one box, on one day, in one van. Less transport costs. Less packaging costs. Less time cost for us packaging. It actually makes sense to order MORE on Black Friday (provided it is something you already needed or considered purchasing full price).
  5. We've been asked constantly what our plans are for Black Friday for WEEKS! We simply don't want to let down our beloved UpCirclers. Give the people what they want goddammit!!


We are passionate about what we do and proud of what we've created. We are also proud to offer affordable prices, rewards and scheduled promotions all year round. By participating we are not trying to encourage greed or a throwaway culture, we simply hope that by offering great deals this Black Friday we are enticing people to make BETTER choices. And we just might grow our family of UpCirclers a little, too!

Stay tuned for more info on what we've got in store.