'Mass-consumerism makes an unfair world' says Trade Aid boss

Author
Rahul Bhattarai, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Nov 2021, 3:17PM
Photo / File
Photo / File

'Mass-consumerism makes an unfair world' says Trade Aid boss

Author
Rahul Bhattarai, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Nov 2021, 3:17PM

Social enterprise Trade Aid rejects the idea of Black Friday sales, with its chief executive saying "mass-consumerism makes an unfair world". 

Tomorrow's Black Friday retail sales are touted as the biggest event in the shopping calendar as consumers take advantage of cheap deals in the lead up to Christmas. 

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the industry this year can expect about $270 million in estimated turnover on the day itself, challenging Boxing Day as the busiest trading day. 

"Black Friday now rivals Boxing Day in terms of its significance in the Kiwi shopping calendar, and we are already seeing businesses promoting sales in the lead-up to the day. It is going to be busy on Friday but, given the ongoing Covid-19 situation, I would expect a good proportion of those sales to be made online," Harford said. 

However, Trade Aid CEO Geoff White said cheap products often have consequences on workers and the environment. 

"Consumers seem to jump at a big sale without understanding the impact. But Kiwis don't want to spend at the expense of fair wages, fair business practices, our local industries, or our planet. And they shouldn't have to. Kiwis deserve ethical and sustainable business all year round." 

Trade Aid sources handmade, fair trade products from more than 65 trading partner organisations, which represent hundreds and thousands of small farmers and artisans in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Palestine and the Pacific. 

Black Friday, traditionally a day associated with discounted gadgets and electronic goods, has extended out to most goods and is marked by almost every retailer. The flash sales event which originated in North America is named aptly referring to retailers' accounts from going in the red to in the black - profitable. 

In 2020 the Herald reported Kiwis spent $650m over the Black Friday weekend in 2019, not including Cyber Monday. Paymark said the spend increased by 3.9 per cent this year, although over a four-day period including the Monday, but was unable to confirm the total spend for 2020. 

White said mass consumerism "hurts people and the planet". 

"Buying good products made in a fair, sustainable way makes life better for everyone, protects our beautiful earth, and our way of life." 

Fast consumerism leads to frivolous spending, and that leads to more wastage that has a huge environmental impact as our landfills fill up, White said. 

"Black Friday has grown over time to become a frenzied event where customers will do anything to get their hands on goods. Companies tempt you with deals and frivolous spending. This has led to violence, death and injuries overseas. This is not the buying culture we'd like to see here in Aotearoa," White said. 

Global corporation practices can also force suppliers to front the costs of the sale discounts, putting further pressure on the supply chain, he alleged. 

"Trade Aid seek to level the playing field with intentional shopping and to champion a world where trade is fair and sustainable for all including our trading partners, artisans, and producers," White said.