Retailers anticipate a bleak Black Friday. Yet, despite the economic downturn, many Americans are still cramming into malls in hopes of snagging the best and earliest holiday buys.
Some consumers, on the other hand, will shun shopping and observe "Buy Nothing Day," a loosely organized protest against conspicuous consumption. The idea comes from Adbusters, an artsy glossy that counts a circulation of 100,000, plus 80,000 online members of its "culture-jamming" network of social pranksters.
Participants in a wiki for the event have planned demonstrations at shopping centers around the country, including the mammoth Mall of America in Minnesota. Some San Franciscans are opting to swap used stuff at the Really Really Free Market outside in Dolores Park. Wikipedia entries track activities in 65 countries.
The Adbusters Web site suggests repeating pranks performed by tens of thousands of people at malls in recent years, like wandering around in zombie gear. Some might stage a "Whirl Mart," roaming in packs at Wal-Mart stores with packed shopping carts, yet declining to buy anything. Armed with scissors, other participants may offer strangers the free "service" of a credit card cut-up.
Millions of people have heard of Buy Nothing Day by now and it grows each year, although there's no official count of the faithful, according to Kalle Lasn, Adbusters editor in chief and co-founder.
As lists of corporate collapses and layoffs lengthen, the notion of buying less or nothing is becoming less an option and more of a necessity for many people. That's an "I told you so" moment for activists such as those at Adbusters.
"If people had heeded the buy-nothing message, then we wouldn't be in this mess," Lasn said. "This glorified spending and borrowing of the past 10 years is really the root cause of this financial and economic meltdown we're in now."… Read more