Black Friday, 25.11.2022

"Price reductions are being faked" warns the consumer protection

Black Friday is considered to be a shopping day that delights consumers with generous discounts. But what is really behind it? How can you see through Black Friday deals? And how can you shop sustainably?

Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas business in Germany, and is thereby the period with the highest turnover for the retail trade. On this day, shops attract customers with deep discounts. The practice comes from the USA, where the Friday after Thanksgiving is a bridge day for many people, which they use for their Christmas shopping. (Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the last Thursday in November). This special shopping day has also established itself in our latitudes In the meantime.

But criticism of this consumption frenzy is also getting louder: The unnecessary purchase of electrical goods and clothing is anything but sustainable, and doesn’t help to conserve resources and the environment.

Price reductions are often only feigned
"Black Friday is above all a hype that gives the impression of price reductions on a very broad front," says Sara Stalder, Managing Director of Consumer Protection.

It seems that everything is very cheap on this day. However, there are great doubts as to whether prices are actually lower everywhere. Again and again, Black Friday deals are used to create the illusion of a large price reduction: "For example, by increasing prices a few weeks before," says Sara Stalder. To give consumers the impression that they are getting a bargain on Black Friday.

A hype fuelled by companies
Does Black Friday pay off for retailers at all? Sara Stalder says that there are hardly any other countries that have as many promotions and discount battles as Switzerland. This has to do with the high-price island of Switzerland: prices are already very high here. It would be better for consumers, however, if the price level for imported products were generally significantly lower and there were fewer promotions.

Black Friday is a success above all because "extremely good marketing, a concentrated load of so-called ‘promotions’ and a hype around this day work together". Companies fuel this hype. In the meantime, however, they can hardly avoid it, because customers wait for this day to make their purchases. But opinions are also divided on the provider side: there are always those who no longer want to participate. Sara Stalder says:

"But they can hardly escape from the spirits that they have  called up."

Sara Stalder advises consumers to "Prepare yourself with a classic shopping list. If you find a bargain that you don't have on your wish list, keep a cool head, take a deep breath and ask yourself: 'Do I really need this?'" Because everything you buy to hold in stock harms your wallet and also the environment. "Don't be tempted to buy bargains that you may regret later," she adds. If you want to buy something specific, you should check the price weeks in advance, and check whether there has actually been a price reduction for the item.

Not everything labelled Black Friday is actually being offered cheaper.     Standard photo:
Sara Stalder, Managing Director of the Foundation for Consumer Protection (SKS)              Photo: Peter Klaunzer
Barbara Wegmann, Campaigner Zero Waste, Greenpeace             Photo: PD

How to get through the discount battle without regrets
The Consumer Protection Foundation has compiled further tips in a guide on how to avoid shopping traps and unnecessary purchases.


Counter-movement: Discount battles harm the climate
Barbara Wegmann, a campaigner at Zero Waste at Greenpeace in Zurich, criticises the retail trade. She can’t understand why companies take part in the Black Friday hype: "With such campaigns, they are fuelling the throwaway mentality in society." Overconsumption harms the climate and biodiversity, and is often accompanied by social exploitation. She adds:

"Retailers are diametrically contradicting their sustainability promises."

What ecological alternatives are there if you want to afford something new? According to Barbara Wegmann, every new product has an ecological impact. "Buying nothing, or buying second-hand is therefore always the better solution."

There is a large second-hand market in Switzerland, where you can find almost everything at reasonable prices. On the other hand, there are often smaller suppliers who pay attention to ecological and social sustainability in their raw materials and production methods. In order to resist the Black Friday offers, Barbara Wegmann gives the following tips: