You are here

Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day

Every year in November, people look for bargains on Black Friday. But did you know that the same day is also Buy Nothing Day?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the day after the American holiday of Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Because it is a holiday in the United States, it has long been a popular day for consumers to start shopping for Christmas. Over the last 20 years big retailers have started to offer discounts and bargains on this day, and it has become more and more popular. Last year, people in the USA spent an estimated $54.7 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving, when people often buy more online). The idea of Black Friday has also spread around the world. For example, in 2017, people in the UK spent the equivalent of $10.3 billion, in Germany $7.6 billion and in France $6.2 billion.

Is Black Friday out of control?

Many of us love to get a bargain, but some feel that events like Black Friday encourage people to buy things that they don’t really need and can’t afford. Many people seem to completely lose control of both their spending and their tempers. It is easy to find video online of customers physically fighting each other over bargains. It is also argued that Black Friday is bad for small shopkeepers, who cannot afford to offer the kinds of price cuts that the big companies can. 

What’s the alternative to Black Friday? 

Instead of taking the opportunity to buy as much as possible on Black Friday, you could do the opposite and buy absolutely nothing. Since 1997, Buy Nothing Day has been held on the same day as Black Friday. The rules are simple. Just don’t buy anything at all for 24 hours. Many people are surprised how difficult this actually is. The aim is to make people think more about their spending and to make better decisions about what they buy and where they buy it from.

Ethical spending

As well as spending less and not buying unnecessary items, Buy Nothing Day aims to raise awareness of how to be a more ethical consumer. For example, you can avoid buying ‘fast fashion’, that is, very cheap clothes that are worn a few times before being thrown away. Or you could decide not to automatically upgrade your mobile at the end of a contract. These kinds of decisions can help to protect the environment as well as saving you money. 

What else can you do on Buy Nothing Day? 

Some people carry out protests at shopping centres. Others avoid the shops completely and go for a walk in nature instead. Another alternative, the Buy Nothing Coat Exchange, is an idea which is spreading. People donate winter coats throughout November and anyone who needs one can come and take one on Buy Nothing Day. 



Language level

Intermediate: B1


I don't really believe in black Friday sale. Most of the retails in my country increase the prices of their goods then they do 25%-50% sale.. so the items will be sold with it's original prices, A little bit discounted.

I did not buy anything on Black Friday this year. In my country, I think the retailers just give a big discount price ( 40% or more) for old fashion clothes, shoes, nearly expired products or inventory...and things what the consumer don't need or can't afford. I remember I bought a T-shirt on Black Friday last year with 50% discount. Although I did not like its color and style, I got it because the price was cheaper than usual. After that, I regretted and did not wear it anytime. With this money, I could buy another better and more useful. In my opinion, we should think carefully before buying anything to avoid wasting money and protect the environment. Thank you.

i'm not buying anything in black friday usually
but i wish in the next year many people have the awareness to stopped this day

We should be more careful with our needs at the next Black Friday.

I don't like Black Friday in erstern world, nor Double 11 in China. I think they are no good for cosumption habit, neither for economy of a country. So they are not attractive for me.

Agian, I like to read the comments and the replies from the team, I have learned a lot fromthem. Thanks all.

i didn't nothing. I agree that but there were very cheap stuffs in stores once upon a time..

In Thailand we don't have Black Friday, but we have discount things for a special day like Father's Day and so on. When I saw some videos on Youtube, it looks inresting and also danger on that situation too.

I bought nothing on Black Friday this year. Although many products are much cheaper than usual, I still can't afford it. I very disagree with these people who out controlled on Black Friday. They bought many things they don't need and can't afford. Even more, they bought clothes doesn't fit them at all. I just wonder, won't they be regret what they bought?

hello team.

I just wonder if there is a written mistake or not on the last line of paragraph 4. I'm referring to 'saving you money' Is that a true usage?
I'd thought it must have been 'saving your money' or something like that.

Thanks in advance..

Hi samgold,

The meaning of 'save' here is 'to prevent money from being wasted'. When used this way, an indirect object (in this case, 'you') can be put before the direct object (in this case, 'money'). If you follow the link, the second example sentence shows the same use of the verb:

Thanks for your help -- it saved me a lot of work.

In this case, 'me' is the indirect object and 'work' is the direct object.

'Save your money' is also a correct verb phrase, but it has a slightly different meaning. It means you save your money. In contrast, this article mentions a decision that saves money for you, i.e. the decision saves the money.

In the end, the result is the same, but the way we imagine what happens is different, which is why the grammar is different.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team