Church leader critical of Black Friday spending spree

A Northern Ireland church leader has warned about the dangers of indulging in a Black Friday bargain hunt.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 11:42 am
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland Moderator Rev Dr William Henry. Photo by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rt Rev Dr William Henry has suggested people to give to charity instead of further cluttering their lives.

Dr Henry has urged people to avoid a pre-Christmas spending spree on Black Friday which falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the USA but has become a discount event which is not confined to a single 24-hour period.

He said: “Gift-giving and over-consumption can bring clutter rather than joy to our lives.

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Rosamund Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland

“Black Friday and the advertising industry are pushing us towards an endless cycle of buying stuff simply because it seems a little cheaper than it was previously advertised.

“Yet we have so much already that it’s really hard to buy a novel gift for someone. Besides, we’ve more stuff, less space and we’re not any happier.”

Black Friday is a marketing initiative imported from the United States when retailers offer big discounts to kickstart the Christmas shopping season. The Presbyterian Moderator’s call for “retail restraint” comes amid growing concern about plastic pollution and climate change, much of it fuelled by excessive consumption.

Dr Henry continued: “I’m thankful today for those bold voices which cause me to think of our world and the welfare of others.

“Alternative gifts, such as those offered by Christian Aid, improve the lives of others, are genuinely needed and make life better.

“These are true gifts that bring real pleasure.”

Each Christmas Christian Aid offers gifts online that allow the charity to reach and help people living in poverty overseas.

Supporters are able to choose between a wide range of gifts, including shelter for people fleeing conflict, antibiotics for a child living in poverty and even a cow to provide families with milk and meat.

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett welcomed the Moderator’s comments: “Of course, people want to buy a gift for their nearest and dearest at Christmas but the giving of gifts to an ever-widening circle of friends is a recipe for stressed-out shoppers and a polluted planet.

“Endless tit-for-tat giving just means that we all wind up with lots of tat. This year, let’s choose meaning over merchandise.”

Research from PwC has found that 59% of consumers in Northern Ireland are either interested or plan to buy something during the Black Friday sales.

It found that shoppers in the Province plan to spend around 35% more than last year, an average of £183.