Black Friday frenzy goes global - and not everyone's happy

Darnell Taylor
December 2, 2019

To French activists, Black Friday is the epitome of this shift, a purely business occasion created to spice up USA retailers forward of the Christmas holidays, the image of capitalism run amok.

Some held banners reading "Amazon: for the climate, for employment, stop expanding, stop over-production", while others used old electrical goods to block the path of trucks trying to enter the site.

Many French activists hindered an Amazon distribution center south of Paris in a Black Friday-enlivened dissent, in the midst of expanded resistance to the post-Thanksgiving deals marvel that has seen a gathering of French legislators push to boycott it by and large. However, there has been a backlash against the event driven in part by environmental concerns.

More demonstrations took place on Friday, with environmental groups threatening to turn 29 November into a "Black Day for Amazon".

Activists holding signs also chained themselves to different high street shop windows but were later removed and arrested by police.

Similar protests against Amazon erupting in other European countries, including Germany, where the workers of six distribution centers staged a walkout over pay and conditions.

Environmentalists have accused Amazon of accelerating climate change through its rapid delivery services, which they say contribute to greenhouse gases emissions.

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"The demonstrators and Attac are throwing around untrue allegations based on factual errors and are pointing the finger at Amazon for political ends", it said.

Others urged people to halt purchases altogether to protest the US-inspired event, such as the "Buy Nowt Friday" in Bradford, northern England, organised by artists and anti-poverty advocates.

Francois Momboisse, president of French online retail association Fevad, condemned the protests.

In Britain, where the big winter sales have traditionally been held on the day after Christmas, companies have adopted Black Friday marketing campaigns since about 2010.

He also said that Amazon France would step up efforts to ensure that unsold goods were given to charity, following reports that many unsold items are destroyed by the company.

A French legislative committee passed an amendment Monday that proposes prohibiting Black Friday since it causes "resource waste" and "overconsumption". It is not clear how misleading advertising will be defined or penalised.

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