The holiday season is in full swing across the United States, with Thanksgiving right around the corner — and Black Friday coming right on its heels.
As the coronavirus rampages across the nation and with holiday sales expected to be weak and heavily dependent on online shopping, it's no surprise that retailers are considering extraordinary steps to draw customers.
But other stores, some long before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world, had already given up the Black Friday tradition in search of more sustainable goals.
For some companies, like REI, the lure of a boost in sales isn’t enticing enough to open their doors on the sure-to-be-packed shopping day. Other companies, like Everlane, donate the profits from Black Friday sales to various charities.
Here are a few companies that aren’t celebrating Black Friday in the typical way:
Luxury vegan fashion brand Angela Roi launched the second year of its Rebel Against Black Friday initiative on Nov. 23, a program offering discounts to customers who can prove they donated to a charity.
Until Dec. 1, customers who donate at least $1 to either Feeding America or another charity of their choice will be eligible for a 20% discount to the online store. Customers can find information about participating charities on the company’s Instagram page, or can simply choose a cause near and dear to their heart.
After making a donation, customers must email the company a photo confirmation before receiving a discount coupon.
The company hopes their program shifts the focus this holiday season from “‘shop till you drop,’ to gratitude and giving back,” per its website.
Canadian-owned beauty company Deciem, well-known for its skincare line The Ordinary, announced in early November that it would continue its Black Friday boycott for the second year in a row.
The company is continuing its tradition of “KNOWvember,” an education-based initiative that encourages customers to shop “based on education over impulse.” In addition to a month-long 23% discount throughout November, Deciem hosts daily educational seminars on various aspects of physical health.
“By offering a month-long discount and daily education, we hope to empower people with the time and information required to buy less, but better,” a statement on the company’s website reads. “Hyper-consumerism remains one of the biggest threats to the planet and an urgent change in the way that humans produce and consume products is required.”
Deciem will close all of its physical and online stores on Nov. 27 “for a moment of nothingness.”
This San Francisco-based clothing retailer is primarily online, and has made a name for itself by its “radical transparency” model, in which the company offers customers insight into how and where their products are made and sells their products minus traditional retail markups.
The catch is that Everlane is always selling their clothes at the lowest price point — thus, the company doesn’t participate in normal Black Friday sales, save for some special deals in their “Choose What You Pay” section.
Instead, Everlane launched the Black Friday Fund in 2013, a fundraising initiative that matches customer purchases in donations to various charities around the world.
This year, the company has chosen to donate money to Feeding America, a national nonprofit of over 200 food banks that provides meals for over 46 million people.
“2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. COVID-19 has affected all of our lives. And while both hope and vaccines are on the horizon, many are still facing hard realities,” Everlane Founder and CEO Michael Preysman wrote in a statement. “As a result of the pandemic, 50 million people may face hunger in the U.S. this year — including more than 17 million children.”
The company pledged an initial $100,000 donation and on Tuesday, Nov. 24, Everlane will match $10 for every donation made to Feeding America up to $50,000. Beginning midnight on Black Friday through Nov. 29 at 11:59 p.m. PST, the company will donate 10 meals (monetary equivalent of $1) to Feeding America for every purchase made online or in stores.
This popular Swedish furniture company is trying something new with their Buy Back Friday initiative, offering to buy back used furniture from would-be customers instead of encouraging them to purchase more.
“Do something Green on Black Friday,” IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer Pia Heidenmark Cook tweeted of the program. “If we can't resell it, we will recycle or donate it to community projects to help those most affected by Covid-19.”
But don’t get too excited, because the United States is not participating in the program.
“We feel it’s important to release the program in the United States when we can deliver the best possible experience for both our stores and customers,” a statement on the company’s website reads. “Please hold on to your used IKEA furniture or find other ways to donate or recycle them at this time, and thank you for enabling IKEA to lead the way in sustainability!”
The program, which only applies to used IKEA furniture, will take place across 27 countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the U.K.
Unlike many of its competitors, REI’s stores are not participating in Black Friday. Continuing a six-year-long tradition, the retailer is closing its 167 locations and paying its more than 13,000 employees to spend time outdoors on Nov. 27.
In a statement, company executives said the tradition is more important than ever given “the pandemic, a contentious election season and widespread civil unrest.”
“In the middle of everything, we have watched as people all over the world – some of them for the first time – looked to time outside to reflect, restore and connect to one another,” REI CEO Eric Artz wrote in an open letter. “In this year of unprecedented challenges staying true to our purpose, living our values and caring for our people and communities is more important than ever.”
Artz further called on REI employees to practice social distancing and good hygiene to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the holiday season.