Gaining momentum in the retail sector is a Black Friday spin-off campaign that addresses the environmental impact of consumerism. We've rounded-up some key insights into how consumer pressure has led to the rise of Green Friday, what this looks like in the wake of a global pandemic, and how your retail brand can take climate action today.
November's Black Friday shopping event usually signals a spending spree for consumers, boosting revenue across the UK retail sector. But this year's footfall has decreased on the UK high street and overall retail spending is down 4.8% YTD (ONS), which means that consumer brands will be working harder to push offers to an unusually divided customer group: those that have financially benefited from the UK's lockdown versus those furloughed or made redundant. The key to targeting these groups is climate action - providing options that save money and the environment.
Over the past decade, the Black Friday shopping weekend in the UK has become synonymous with dropping prices to increase product sales - often accompanied with aggressive marketing campaigns to whip-up a consumer spending splurge. In 2019, retail brands like ASOS sold 2,000 items per hour over the Black Friday weekend and, according to Barclaycard, online transactions reached a new hourly peak of 1,184 transactions per second. But the 2020 landscape is now different: some brands have already pivoted their sales strategy to create demand over lockdown, or seen it grow unexpectedly (1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles are no longer just for your grandma it would seem...) and there is an increasing wave of brands using Black Friday to showcase their climate ambition to boost customer sentiment.
Gaining momentum in the retail sector is a Black Friday spin-off campaign that addresses the environmental impact of consumerism. Last year a coalition in France signed a pledge that included over 300 retailers promising to "Make Friday Green Again" and use the shopping weekend to promote climate action. Edie went on to report that Green Friday campaigns included shoe brand Allbirds removing products from its store to make way for creative workshops, and Deciem, which owns beauty brands The Ordinary and NIOD, closing its shops and website because they felt flash sales were not helpful for the environment.
But will the delicate shoots of the Green Friday weekend grow in 2020? Or will the negative effects of coronavirus on retail quash any hope for using the weekend to promote climate action over sales? Long-time climate champion, Patagonia, has said that the world may be suffering from a global pandemic but that it's not going to let 2020 dampen its "iconoclastic and countercultural energy". In 2016, Patagonia used Black Friday to donate 100% of its sales to the 1% for the planet community and last year it launched Patagonia Action Works - a forum for grassroots environmental activists. And, just last week, IKEA announced that it will use this year's Black Friday weekend to buy back its unwanted furniture from customers to resell as secondhand as part of their efforts to take action against climate change.
Interestingly, we've seen a growing number of online retailers using green technologies to support green consumer spending 365 days per year. In 2019, South Pole partnered with Digitec Galaxus AG, the largest online department store in Switzerland, and developed a formula to calculate product specific CO2 footprints. With voluntary climate protection and contribution available at the checkout, customers could offset their consumption-related CO2 emissions and support climate protection projects by investing in carbon credits from South Pole's portfolio. Similarly, our carbon neutral labels were awarded to a record number of South Pole clients in 2019 — giving customers confidence that they are buying from ambitious and socially responsible brands.
Want to start your climate journey? Or maybe you're looking to take the next step to becoming climate neutral? Review our 5 steps to climate leadership and get in touch to help us support your business's journey.