Everyone is well acquainted with the twelve days of Christmas, in the modern
era, that is being replaced by 6 days of overconsumption. The period around
Thanksgiving is the busiest U.S. shopping period of the year. Thanksgiving has
long been a spectacle of consumer overindulgence, but now this rampant
consumerism extends well beyond Black Friday. Marketers are finding more ways to
entice consumers, but they ignore the fact that we cannot sustain our current
rate of consumption.
destructive holiday; however, some of the shopping days which follow offer
modest improvements that move us a few inches in the right direction. According to a National Retail Federation
(NRF) holiday consumer spending survey, nearly $586 billion will be spent over
the 2012 holiday season. Their data indicates that spending in stores and online
rose to $59.1 billion in the four days starting on November 22.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Federation said
shoppers increased their average spending from $398 in 2011 to $423 in 2012. The
NRF also said that turnout was up 4.6 percent from the period last year.
However, they note that Holiday shopping is being spread out over a much wider
Black Friday “is certainly not dead,” said Matthew Shay, chief executive of
the trade group National Retail Federation, but “it’s starting to spread out.
Now we’re seeing, really, a five-day weekend” said Mr. Shay of the retail
Although the NRF refers to a five day shopping period, it is actually more
like a six day period that extends from Thanksgiving Thursday to the following
Tuesday. Here is a breakdown of the six major days of overconsumption:
Day 1. Black Thursday
To entice Americans to buy more, some retailers decided to open the day
before Black Friday’s pandemonium. Thanksgiving Day shopping has been
dubbed Black Thursday. The NRF indicated that the number of shoppers on
Thanksgiving Day 2012 rose to more than 35 million from 29 million last
year. According to the Federation, about 28 percent of people surveyed said that
their shopping started at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving. In 2009, when
major retailers started experimenting with Thanksgiving openings, that figure
was just 3 percent.
Day 2. Black Friday
The day following Thanksgiving is Black Friday in the U.S., the busiest
shopping day of the year. All across America, the Friday after Thanksgiving is
renowned for the hordes of shoppers it attracts. On this day, most major
retailers open extremely early, and offer promotional sales to kick off the
The expression Black Friday originated in Philadelphia in the 60′s and more
recently, the term has been explained as the point at which retailers begin to
turn a profit, or are “in the black”. In 2011 several major retailers
opened early on Thanksgiving Day. The New York Times reports that
ShopperTrak data shows that store visits on the Friday after Thanksgiving rose
3.5 percent from last year, to more than 307 million visits.
Day 3. Small Business Saturday
The day after Black
Friday, is Small Business Saturday (SBS). This day started in 2010 as a day when
people “shop small”, in support of America’s small businesses. November 24th
2012, marked the third SBS. According to pre-holiday research from
the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express,
Americans planned to shop small and spend big on SBS.
In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users, 230 public and private
organizations, 75 corporations and elected officials in all 50 states and
Washington D.C. declared their support for SBS. Last year, more than 500,000
small business owners leveraged an online tool or promotional materials for SBS
and 15,000 businesses signed up for free Facebook advertising to promote their
products and services in the run up to SBS.
Of the tens of millions of Americans familiar with Small Business Saturday,
67 percent said they were planning to “shop small” on SBS and 44 percent said
they shopped at small businesses on SBS in 2011. Of those consumers who shopped
last year on Small Business Saturday, 70 percent plan to spend more or the same
amount this year and will spend on average $100.
Day 4. Sofa Sunday
In an effort to cram even more holiday shopping into the post Thanksgiving
period, some have proposed an event called “Sofa Sunday.” In 2011, the term Sofa
Sunday was coined to describe the popularity of iPad shopping on the Sunday
following Thanksgiving. This event reflects the emerging consumer trend of using
mobile devices to shop online from the comfort of home.
Sunday, November 25, 2012, shows that iPad shoppers shopped on Sunday as much as
they did on Cyber Monday, with both days’ sales growing substantially over
2011. With the intent of increasing shopping, Sofa Sunday has expanded consumer’s
ability to shop outside of traditional shopping periods or locations which now
includes the workplace.
“The iPad has become the platform of choice for shopping, as illustrated by
the growth of traffic on Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday,” said Joaquin Ruiz, CEO
of Catalog Spree. “Customers can now window shop from the comfort of their home,
find the perfect gifts and avoid Black Friday madness. Our holiday survey showed
that 87 percent of consumers plan to shop from digital catalogs this
Catalog Spree’s shopping traffic via the iPad on Cyber Monday tripled in
Day 5. Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is a
marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. It was created
by companies to persuade people to shop online. The term made its debut on
November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release. According to the Shop.org/BizRate
Research 2005 eHoliday Mood Study, “77 percent of online retailers said that
their sales increased substantially last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving,
a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday
this year (2005)”. In 2006, Shop.org launched the CyberMonday.com portal, and in
2010, comScore reported that consumers spent $1028M online on Cyber
Monday (excluding travel, 2009: $887M), the highest spending day of 2010.
international marketing event. More people are buying online even before the
Cyber Monday event. Sales increased 17.4 percent on Thanksgiving, and 20.7
percent the next day, according to I.B.M., which tracks
e-commerce transactions from 500 retailers.
Day 6. Green Tuesday
Green Tuesday, also called Fair Trade Tuesday, is one of several ways people
are trying to brand the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. With the addition of Green
Tuesday, the five day shopping weekend has been extended into a six day consumer
The Green Tuesday
event started on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 by the non-profit environmental
group Green America, which is ostensibly
dedicated to green shopping activities and sustainable products. Green America’s Web
site, GreenDeals.org, offers discounts on
products like self-watering systems for indoor and outdoor plants and annual
memberships for car-sharing or bicycle-sharing clubs. All of the businesses
featured on their Web site are from local and national green businesses that are
by Green America.
According to Jonah Mytro, the co-founder of GreenDeals.org, there are high
hopes for this day:
“We are hoping Green
Tuesday results in something of a paradigm shift,” said Mytro. “Our goal is to
encourage a different way of thinking about holiday shopping — one that’s more
deliberate, more purposeful and one that will inspire consumers to shop with the
planet in mind when there’s a greener form of a gift you were already planning
to purchase…During the holiday
season consumers are faced with a lot of shopping decisions,” Mytro said. “Green Tuesday
is designed to inspire consumers to make thoughtful, purposeful, eco-minded
choices. It means really thinking about the money you are spending and buying
the right gift for the right person while taking care of the planet at the same
Not everyone is happy
with six solid days of consumerism. An increasing number of people are resisting
the seemingly endless stream of marketing designed to get consumers to buy more
than they need. As reported in SmartMoney, MarketWatch.com
said that hundreds of thousands of customers, employees and shareholders have
signed an online petition to protest Target’s opening on Thanksgiving night.
“Christmas creep has now turned into Christmas crunch,” says Marshal Cohen,
chief industry analyst with the market researcher NPD Group. Department stores
will keep adding consumer holidays to compete with online retailers, he says:
“They are willing to risk some wrath of consumers and
Adbusters promoted Buy Nothing Day on the 23rd and 24th of November and on
November 27th they asked Americans to make donations to charity.
Consumers have tremendous power to improve our world, it starts with buying
less. When we do make purchases, we need to make simple choices like avoiding
products made of plastic or products that come with excessive packaging. By
putting their spending power to work on less environmentally harmful products,
consumers can dramatically lessen their impacts on the Earth.
Some of the choices are
easy, like buying products that are labeled organic, local, or fair trade.
Others aspects of making responsible purchases require a bit more research.
While there are a plethora of green shopping options, not all are equal. Just
because a company claims to be green does not mean that they
actually are. To be a green consumer engaged in responsible consumption, do a
thorough investigation before you make a purchase.
Unbridled consumerism is antithetical to ecological betterment. Green
consumers can help to establish new patterns of consumption that decrease
wastefulness and eschew overconsumption. We all need to be more environmentally
aware consumers and part of that responsibility involves not falling prey to
While there are some redeeming features to new shopping days like Green
Tuesday, overall, the marketing events around the Thanksgiving holidays are the
harbingers of an environmental hell.
Source: Global Warming is Real
Green Tuesday’s Sustainable Consumerism
How to Make Gift Giving More Green from C2ES
Tips to Make Gift Giving More Green from FatWallet
Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics 2012
Greenpeace Green Electronics Guide November 2011
Thanksgiving Shopping: Consumption and the Earth’s Carrying Capacity
Thanksgiving Shopping: From Black Friday to Green Tuesday
Thanksgiving for those who Feel Thankless
All Indications Suggest a Banner Year for Cyber Monday Shopping
Black Friday 2011 Saw a Big Year-Over-Year Spending Increase
A Thanksgiving Infused with Environmental Gratitude
Thanksgiving: Living in Harmony with the Planet
Seven Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Greener
The Environmental Toll of the Holidays
Patagonia Shows the Way with Responsible Business Leadership
Video: Retail Shopping from a Sustainability Standpoint
Video: Sustainable Shopping
Video: The Story of Stuff
New Methods of Manufacturing and New Patterns of Consumption