European Consumer Centre

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How avoid problems on Black Friday and not burden the planet

During the Black Friday shopping rush, every shopper should take extra care and check the advertised discounts. Were prices deliberately raised a few weeks before the sale? Are they really lower than at competitors? Does the displayed percentage discount correspond to the actual difference between the old price and the reduced price? The European Consumer Centre Czechia also warns in its current shopper tips against impulsive purchases of products that people then return with unnecessary environmental impact. The Centre also points out that there is a ‘green’ alternative to Black Friday, the “Buy Nothing Day”.

“Surveys show that consumer expectations are really high for Black Friday. But some retailers seem to be testing their customers in maths,” reflects Ondřej Tichota of the European Consumer Centre by the Czech Trade Inspection Authority, which deals with shoppers’ rights in the EU single market. Sentences like “last 3 units” or “25 other customers are looking at this product” create additional pressure. And it’s not just the Czech Republic. Partner centres in other EU countries have the same experience with similar behaviour by some e-shops. It is good to be cautious.”

In addition to the inconsistencies in the prices offered, another problem for consumers is that explosive advertisements offering big discounts usually hide reduced prices for only a small part of the product range. However, one click through the advert will attract a new customer, who can then choose from the rest of the non-discounted products.

“Discount promotions can tempt people to overbuy things they don’t necessarily need. As well as leading to unnecessary spending from their own wallet, the product in question has also been wasted because it will now be stored somewhere or shipped back. It is worth considering purchases in this way too,” says Ondřej Tichota, adding that the European Consumer Centres Network has prepared three “green” tips for sustainable shopping:

1. Avoid impulse purchases: Make a shopping list with only the things you really need. Avoid unnecessary deliveries and returns.
2. Use size charts and other customer reviews, for example. This way you can order the right size straight away and avoid unnecessary returns.
3. Choose sustainable shipping: Some online stores offer eco-friendly packaging. Arrange a delivery date when you are at home. Delivery to a collection point is more ecological than delivery to your door.

“Also with the environment in mind, the so-called “Buy Nothing Day” has been established as an alternative to the consumerist Black Friday. In America, some people have it on the same day, Friday, but in other countries it is more often the following day, Saturday. Even in the Czech Republic, there are certainly those who will not buy anything on 27 November,” concludes Ondřej Tichota.