Holiday Shoppers Boycotts Amazon During Black Friday Sale

Danny Caine doesn’t shop on Amazon very often. Being the owner of both an independent bookstore and author of “How to Resist Amazon and Why,” such actions would be at odds with everything he represents.

However, until recently, he was something of an outlier in an era when two-day Prime shipping is standard and brown boxes are dotted around the porches and front yards of millions of homes throughout the world. 

Nowadays, “the conversation is growing in intensity,” he said, adding that more and more consumers are jumping ship from Amazon.

Caine believes greater forces are at work, as much as he would like to credit his book for the shift in consumer behavior. 

It isn’t just independent bookstores and small business owners who are voicing their concerns about Amazon’s negative impact on their brand, but government agencies and the media are shining a light on antitrust reform, environmental issues, privacy violations, and union-busting practices.

Protocol requested a comment from Amazon, but it did not respond.

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One of those recent converts is Miryam Jivotovski, a product manager at a tech company. Her moment of switch came upon reading reports of Amazon drivers peeing in bottles when they were under pressure to avoid bathroom breaks.

“I definitely used to feel OK about [shopping at Amazon],” she said, but something shifted after the 2016 election.

“A lot of things happened around my understanding of the world and my values,” she told Protocol.

It’s Hard to Practice Waiting

As of 2020, Tsion McNichols no longer shops on Amazon. Due to the pandemic, she had to reexamine “where [she] put [her] money and time and effort.” The process has been “harder than I anticipated,” she stated.

The impetus for the move came during Prime Day 2019 when she “went crazy” and bought several items: a swimsuit, sunglasses, and a portable laptop accessory. 

The boxes began arriving shortly after. Rather than arriving in one big package, they arrived one at a time. 

In addition to the cheap sunglasses delivered to her, the swimsuit also didn’t fit properly and was of poor quality. 

The packaging waste and return hassle suddenly became very apparent to her. 

She became vigilant about patronizing local businesses after her favorite local bar closed during the pandemic.

Advocates and customers who are dropping the Amazon platform say it is a generational shift. 

Despite some people avoiding Amazon, many of their family and friends continue to shop there regularly. 

McNichols’s parents and other older family members don’t value “slow consumption” and “intentional living” as she and her friends do.

The 26-year-old employee of an ed-tech company told Protocol that  “Of course, there’s cheating days.”

When you click “Add to Cart,” you expect the item to arrive on your doorstep within two days of placing it there. 

“It’s hard to practice waiting,” she said, remembering a time when she and her roommate lacked a bottle opener, and it was pouring rain outside. It would have been much easier just to order one on Amazon since neither one of them felt like battling the elements.

“Part of my own personal journey has been to stop expecting and relying on convenience,” explained Naomi Crawford, owner of Lunchette, a  Zero Waste restaurant in Petaluma, Calif.

“You have to make adjustments,” she said. “They do feel like sacrifices.

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Have some Friction In Making Purchases, it is Beneficial

In Brooklyn, Benji Lampel works for a startup as an enterprise platform architect. 

In over five years, he hasn’t got a Prime membership. 

He most recently bought a toolset from the wedding registry of his brother via Amazon.

During college, he had gotten an Amazon Alexa device that led him to consciously avoid Amazon. 

The device turned itself on and announced that a new device had been connected as Lampel had sat alone in his studio apartment all that day.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh no, I have to get this out of my house immediately,'” he stated.

Since he studied technology in college, he has always thought smart home devices are “super insecure.”

As a result, he began to dislike the rest of the company’s offerings. 

Lampel views Amazon as something different from big-box retailers such as Walmart or Target. 

He explained that Amazon is like a walled garden ecosystem, created to keep you engaged and “rewire your brain.”

“Having a little bit of friction to make purchases is a good thing,” Lampel continued.

Lampel’s roommate knows that Lampel doesn’t shop at Amazon, and his roommate works there: “He’s OK with it. 

“I don’t try to make him feel bad for working there either.”

Similarly, Crawford finds Amazon a tougher pill to swallow than traditional retailers. 

Though “there’s no way” she’ll shop on Amazon during the holiday season, “I’m not anti-anything. I’m just pro-community.”

This holiday season, Crawford plans to shop at “as many stores in my town as possible.” 

Since she runs a small business, she knows giving her dollars to local shops means more money for those businesses’ employees who can then spend it on lunch or products at Lunchette.

Capitalism does not Permit Ethical Consumption

Jivotovski was unable to shop in her local community this year because she broke her foot. However, 

She was able to shop online for some cleaning supplies on Amazon.

Ultimately, “consumers shouldn’t be responsible for what businesses do,” she stated. 

“There’s no ethical consumption under capitalism.”

McNichols is looking forward to buying gifts for her family and friends from her local businesses this holiday season. 

Gift cards seem like the best idea, not only to let them choose what they want for themselves but also to prevent supply chain problems during the holiday shopping season.

Read More: Inflation Sees Biggest Jump in 30 Years, Jumps to 6.2% in October.

It’s Better to Avoid Amazon than to Buy nothing

The environmental advocates argue that buying locally is more convenient than buying on Amazon — or even worse, buying nothing. 

The Buy Nothing Project is a social movement aimed at increasing hyper-local gift economies founded by Liesl Clark. 

By joining Buy Nothing groups, members are able to exchange items without exchanging money. 

From her point of view, it is actually more convenient to not buy on Amazon. Transactions can happen within an hour if one has a robust gift community – for example, let’s say you need a coffee maker and your neighbor has one that he’s not using.

“It’s important for us to not be thinking of ourselves as consumers but as connected people who are resourceful and who can say no to manufacturers,” Clark said.

The Independent Booksellers Consortium’s executive director, Robert Martin, agrees with Clark. Buying something in a store is “zero-day shipping,” he stated.

Besides, “the pleasure that can be derived from looking at merchandise in a store will always surpass scrolling through a website.” He said.

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