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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 would buy something what i need, and will not buy which i don't need or can't afford even it is at big discount price.

I think is the person's decision. People can encourage this person to apply its money for something more useful, but it's just that.

In Vietnam, we also have Black Friday. But i couldn't buy anything because it was really difficult to access to website of comapies.

This page is in Spanish. I don't understand, because I want to learn English, so why is everything in Spanish? Thanks.

Hi Inmi,

Since I know Spanish, I've translated your comment into English.

Our pages are all in English, so probably it's your web browser that has translated our page into Spanish. Please check the settings of your browser. If that doesn't work, please let us know.

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The LearnEnglish Team

I've never gone out of control in Black Friday day and always think about what i buy.

Black Friday is a good chance to buy things with affordable prices which you wish and need to buy. So you can get use of such big bargains and prepare a list of things you need to buy and buy them in the price cuts.

But on the opposite if you buy things you don't need or can't afford that is a bad behavior

I agree that people buy goods even they don't need and can't afford when it is Black Friday or on sale.
I have also bought some goods on such a day. I am living in China. China has a smilar day called "single day" which is on 11 November. I am not sure whether you have seen or heard news saying they broke the world records in an online market called Taobao regarding how much customers bought or how much money they spent for online shopping. When I bought goods which I don't need in a short future, I felt like I had to buy some for the furture. I also felt that I lost money if I didn't buy it. I believe that marketers know how the costumers feel when they are on sale.

Well, here in Brazil is a popular culture...but generally the people pay everything for half of twice. The retaliers before increase the price of everything, and on the day they "offer discounts". :(

Interesting article. Black Friday is coming :)
Let's be more ethical and wiser consumers