Did the #BlackOutBlackFriday boycott create a slump in sales during the biggest shopping weekend of the year?
The National Retail Federation says 133.7 million people shopped at stores and online this weekend, down 5.2 percent from last year. Total spending for the weekend is expected to fall from $57.4 billion from last year to $50.9 billion this year, which is an 11 percent drop.
In response to the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of his shooter — Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson — many Black Americans decided to sit out holiday shopping.
Activists of all colors participated in protests in malls and retail chains across the nation during the weekend. African-Americans make up more than 13 percent of the US population, with a $1.1 trillion annual buying power. While there is no data on how many people participated in the boycott, it’s safe to assume that it certainly didn’t help retail sales.
However, experts are blaming the sales decline on mostly everything but the boycott. The National Retail Federation surveyed shoppers, and they claim the rise of Cyber Mondays — the busiest shopping day online — is one reason for the slump in retail sales.
They also point to the fact that retail giants like Target, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and Wal-Mart took some of the steam out of the weekend by promoting their big discounts as early as Halloween. Some are also citing consumers’ shaky confidence in the stability of a recovering US economy.
Participants of #BlackOutBlackFriday feel as if the movement is being snubbed by mainstream media and economic analysts. Rahiel Tesfamariam is a social activist, founder of Urban Cusp, and the figure behind the Black Friday protest #NotOneDime.
“The fact that there was any decline in sales on Black Friday, but 11 percent at that, is absolutely significant and celebratory,” Tesfamariam told theGrio.com. “The decline matters despite the fact that the mainstream media is not acknowledging its role. Ironic that so many cable news networks covered the boycott throughout Friday and online news outlets wrote about it last week but are not making the connection in their coverage of a sales decline.”
Tesfamariam and other organizers of the boycott are not taking time to celebrate what some would consider a victory. They are hoping to carry over the protest into “Cyber Monday” and beyond.
Pointing out that today marks the 59th anniversary of the Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat and ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Tesfamariam added, “I don’t believe that is a coincidence; that is a kairos moment challenging us to recognize our collective economic power as a community. This is why I decided to carry the #NotOneDime movement into the weekend and now into Cyber Monday. The next phase of the movement kicks off midnight tonight and will last much longer. We’re just getting started.”