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Was the Ferguson-Inspired Black Friday Boycott Responsible for the Nation’s 11% Drop in Sales?


Protesters at St. Louis area mall

Protesters at St. Louis area mall

After days of stories in the Black media and widespread social media discussion announcing a Black Friday shopping boycott to protest the grand jury decision in Ferguson, retailers said yesterday that sales over the Thanksgiving weekend had plunged 11 percent compared to last year, representing a dollar dropoff of nearly $7 billion.

Although there were stories and images of Black protesters disrupting mall shopping in various locations and even shutting down several malls in the St. Louis area, there was absolutely no mention of the boycott in the mainstream media stories that attempted to explain the unexpected decline in holiday sales.

While lower gas prices and a stronger economy had analysts before the holiday predicting a big bump in Thanksgiving weekend sales, stories in the mainstream media after the holiday have these same analysts twisting themselves into pretzels to explain the drop in sales.

The New York Times suggested Black Friday may be waning in importance, “as retailers increasingly offer deep discounts days, and even weeks, before the traditional year-end sales period. That means many people may have simply done their shopping earlier and stayed home during the Thanksgiving weekend.”

The Washington Post similarly said the decline may be because stores are starting their onslaught of promotions even earlier than Black Friday.

NBC News curiously posited that the $7 billion decline in sales was a positive sign for retailers, possibly signaling that the holiday shopping would actually be stronger because people are less interested in “sales.”

But none of these media outlets made mention of the Black community’s boycott. Not a sentence, not a clause, not a half of a quote. It was as if the efforts of 13 percent of the population, representing more than a trillion dollars of spending power, didn’t merit a thought in serious media discussions of the holiday shopping.

Matthew Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation, even held a conference call with reporters to give his explanations for the holiday drop. The following statement summarizes Shay’s thinking.

“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” Shay said.

The 43 million African-American consumers in the U.S. are a substantial segment of the spending public—though they are traditionally ignored or discounted by mainstream advertisers and marketers. A report last year by Neilsen revealed that Blacks watch more television (37 percent), make more shopping trips (eight), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28 percent) and spend more than twice the time at personal hosted websites than any other group in the U.S.

Blacks make 156 shopping trips per year, compared with 146 trips for the market overall. In addition, when polled by Neilsen before the holidays, Blacks were much more likely than every other group to say they were planning to spend more this holiday season. A total of 10 percent of the U.S. population said it was planning to spend more this holiday season than last year, but that number was 17 percent in the Black community.

So if a significant portion of the most robust consumer spending group in the U.S. decided it was going to stay home this past weekend, it might have a bit of an impact on overall sales.

The announcement of the Thanksgiving shopping boycott first emerged early last week, coming from activists in Missouri from an organization called the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition and also in Atlanta from the African-American Leadership Council led by Rev. Timothy McDonald. The Missouri activists called the movement “No Justice, No Profit” and its intent was for African-Americans to channel their disgust and sense of helplessness after the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown into a proactive way to demonstrate their rage. Even Hollywood directors like Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) and Ava DuVernay (Selma) joined the call for a boycott.

“Until this nation begins to place value on black lives, there will be no value placed on this business because Black lives matter,” coalition member Dacia Polk told St. Louis public radio.

Instead of hitting the usual spots during the heavy shopping weekend, coalition leaders urged African-Americans to spend their money exclusively with Black-owned businesses.

“We know that Black Friday can be the margin of difference of profit for many of these corporations,” the Rev. Timothy McDonald said at the Atlanta gathering, according to “We do not want them to profit on the back of Michael Brown, and all of the Michael Browns who came before him, and all of the other Michael Browns who will come after him.”

The percentage of consumers who shopped between Thursday and Sunday, according to the National Retail Federation, fell from 58.7 percent last year to 55.1 percent this year. That was reflected in a drop in spending from $57.4 billion last year to $50.9 billion this past weekend.

“This year is really slow, there’s a big difference from even last year,” Kmart customer service manager, Indira Reyna, 44, told the Times“It’s never been this slow. We still have all these deals.”

What people are saying

51 thoughts on “Was the Ferguson-Inspired Black Friday Boycott Responsible for the Nation’s 11% Drop in Sales?

  1. Matthew Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation, held a conference call with reporters to give his explanations for the holiday drop. The following statement summarizes Shay’s thinking.
    “A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” Shay said. THAT STATEMENT IS THE BIGGEST BULLSHIT I HAVE HEARD SINCE ENGLISH WAS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE USA! WHAT A LOAD OF HOGWASH!

  2. Lain Iac says:

    More like we can't afford to shop anymore at all.

  3. Scotty Pease says:

    why would you go to a mall and try to step over a bunch of people laying on the ground, trying to get you to step on them so they have a reason to beat you…go online, avoid the bullshit. The only good thing that came out of that was they probably stopped a bunch of redneck moms beating each other up for the latest toy.

  4. Burke Candy says:

    THat was wonderful no after thanks giving shopping and I hope the leaders of the different black.
    join together and find a way to get respect from the other races in that country PLEASE NO.
    LOOTING NO RIOTING your money can talks and the people in power only understand money.
    find ways of making them suffer 40 million can change things.

  5. Jay Contreras says:

    You know they are not going to acknowledge that black people can actually put a dent in their wallets. That would simply encourage us. They remember the effects of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We can do it today too.

  6. Leslie Berry says:

    Shut the fuck up Burke.

  7. Leon Thomas says:

    The powers that be are going to witness a sea change like never before. Black economic empowerment is here to stay.

  8. Tim Coyle says:

    you know English isnt the official language of the USA, right?

  9. Jason Wood says:

    Business publications are notorious for skirting politics and calling things for what they really are.

    If nobody in the industry is backing this claim then take it with a grain of salt.

  10. Until the welfare is cutoff…

  11. Belinda Rodriguez says:

    What about the campaign for Walmart workers? I hear it had it's biggest year and that probably had an impact too. In Miami, the Dream Defenders showed up in solidarity with Our Walmart at an action supporting working who were on strike. So cool to see these movements act in solidarity and amplify each other.

  12. Sundiata Keita says:

    the boycott was stupid.
    1) you had nobody track whether it worked or not.
    2) boycotts have never worked in history unless they were permanent.
    3) their was no follow up goals.

  13. Bwire Vincent says:

    Barry M. Goodknight Don't be stupid; whites are the biggest welfare beneficiaries.

  14. Bwire Vincent says:

    Barry M. Goodknight

    Stop being a parrot and educate yourself.

  15. Anmarie Paul says:

    The media is not going to tell us that our schemes are working it would damage the US corporation. Instead they hope that it will blow over. In the meantime Walmart is using Anthony Anderson to push their junk hard. Everyday since we announced the economic withdrawal his ass has been paraded all over television talking about good deals.

  16. Anmarie Paul says:

    The media is not going to tell us that our schemes are working it would damage the US corporation. Instead they hope that it will blow over. In the meantime Walmart is using Anthony Anderson to push their junk hard. Everyday since we announced the economic withdrawal his ass has been paraded all over television talking about good deals.

  17. So all we got to do Anmarie Paul, is simply keep it up!! They don't have to report it, it won't stop up from shopping Black owned businesses and pass the word around, that's how you do it! JUST KEEP IT UP!! KEEP IT GOING! WE CAN DO THIS!! C'MON!!!! (Y)

  18. Brother if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem! Don't be a part of the problem!!!!

  19. And in regards to Anthony he just their house negro doing the massuh's bidding, but that's alright, he getting paid and it's not too late for him to patronize his people either!! Don't be deterred, just keep it going like I said, tell everyone you know, this is for Michael Brown and his family who are heartbroken for their loss! Let's do it forever for him, trust me, I know this will WORK!! I've seen this before, don't need any cameras or fanfare! LET'S JUST DO IT!!! Namaste my Sister!!

  20. We have coons, whites and government agents who blog and most for undermining our efforts. They are all over FB and Twitter. So careful who and what you listen to.

  21. Ken Smikle says:

    Black consumers are expected to spend more than $1 billion during the holiday shopping season, according to figures from "The Buying Power of Black America" report. A recent Nielsen report cites how important their dollas are to retailers' profit margins this year. Read more at

  22. David Cubean says:

    Barry M. Goodknight yeah but welfare means jobs for the feds and state agencies and money for the merchant class not mention those who rent to so called low income also public transit etc. its all intertwine in the economy why do you think they haven't cut it off yet other social economic groups also depend on those welfare checks and food stamps

  23. David Cubean says:

    Sudiata your second statement is not true in the pass the boycott of the bus in Alabama and of several business proved very effective because the business notice their bottom line decreasing and gave in to the boycotters learn your history before you make stupid statements because you say that boycotts don't work unless they are perminent then why is it that so called blacks can sit in any seat they want on the bus do not have to unless they want give up their seat to a white and can shop, eat or choose not to at any store, restrurant etc.they so choose

  24. David Cubean That's absolutely right brother, also that same boycott also ended up laying off a lot of the bus drivers (white) because of lack of revenue! So, it was VERY effective and a model to this day of it's effectiveness!!! LAWS WERE CHANGED BECAUSE OF THIS!!!

  25. Denise Head says:

    Michael Brown assaulted a police officer while he was still in his car. The witnesses that started the frenzy about him being shot for no reason recanted! Of course that didn't make mainstream media! Why would it? It doesn't matter that Michael Brown WAS NOT innocent of wrong doing! The only thing that's important is that a WHITE man killed a BLACK teenager (18 years old qualifies as an adult!)…….who cares that it was justified? Police officers are evidently the ONLY American citizens not entitled to defend themselves when attacked. Why should police officers even put themselves at risk when PEOPLE seem to think THEIR lives hold no value! I WISH those who claim Michael Brown was a good little boy would read the Grand Jury transcripts and fins out what REALLY happened. Oh wait! Who cares about the truth, lies are so much better, they justify hate and bigotry. Bigots are bigots whether they're orange, purple, green, white, blue, pink, black, red or polka-dotted! Look in the mirror before calling someone a racist or bigot! My southern ancestors were share croppers not plantation owners. I was raised to consider people as individuals NOT as a group of people. Not all white people are nice, not all black people are nice, not all black people are mean, not all white people are mean. People are individuals. If a criminal is arrested, shot or killed could it POSSIBLY be because he or she is a criminal and NOT because of the color of their skin? As far as I'm concerned, protesters who block traffic or violating my rights are wrong. Peaceful protest is lawful protest is respected. Peaceful (non-violent) protest that isn't lawful is not respected.

  26. Sundiata Keita says:

    Jerome Taylor repeating failed mistakes isnt a solution.

  27. Sundiata Keita says:

    David Cubean muthafucka, you learn your history. they boycotted for a year and then gave their money right back to white people. sitting next to white people on the toilet and the bus isnt a gain, sitting on your own buses is a gain.

  28. Sophia Brown says:

    Can you say witness tampering? This officer had a safe out. Shooting was an unnecessary choice reflective of no less than six nearly identical events between the beginning and end of August. Police executing people in situations where the death penalty would not have been applicable had the individuals actually been doing what the police claimed they were doing. The whole point of the exercise is JUSTICE. If cops wont choose not to murder and the authorities won't choose to protect and serve equally then some folks can exercise their right to keep their hard earned money in their pockets. Protest in this country historically draws the attention of the society proper to a situation that needs to be corrected and it has been historically been very effective. Que es que se "Boston Tea Party"?

  29. Brandon Rutledge says:

    I just wonder how people can ignore the fact that the bus boycotts were properly targeted towards the people who were directly responsible for the oppression. Not to mention we had more black businesses back then. This day in age blacks are integrated in the economy. What about the jobs of the black folks that work retail. I think the same energy should be put into taking charge of our political voice and not allowing it to be continuously exploited. Best Buy and the mall did not have Mike Brown killed. Many good people of all races depend on the economy and purposely trying to sabotage it doesn't seem right. Legislative flaws allow investigations to become flawed not retail. Forgive me but I just think the wrong people are being targeted. I'm not trying to discredit the movement I just think it's misguided

  30. Brandon Rutledge says:

    He probably had a contract.

  31. Brandon Rutledge says:

    Jerome Taylor Y'all going after people who had nothing to do with this. That house nigga shit is tired man. We keep pulling each other down over that insecure shit. As far as black owned businesses I live in the hood and I see very few but I constantly hear people complaining about the indians and arabs and others who do business in the hood. I'm not trying to front on you but I get tired of people insulting other black folks for doing well. Saying that someone is only where they are because of the white man is some real slave shit and undermines brothers and sisters out there working hard and doing the right thing. Being mad is no excuse to tear another brother down.

  32. K Janell Correia says:

    David Cubean well if it means that the police will stop killing unarmed black men then o well I guess there will have to be a sacrifice. LIFE

  33. Tarscha Hobbs says:

    Boycots do work just have to it for more than a day I save 100% by not shopping!

  34. Darla Jean Christopher says:

    Jay Contreras
    As well as those who are Caucasian and feel chose to boycott. I bought -0- at Home Depot, WalMart, and Toys R' Us while a friend shopped………… crush of shoppers…

  35. Darla Jean Christopher says:

    Bwire Vincent
    Big Business needs YOUR tax dollars. Also, "welfare" goes straight INTO the US economy; foreign weapons corps get billions….for other nations.

  36. Jelani Foster says:

    We need to do this more often!!!!

  37. Jelani Foster says:

    You know I'm sure a lot of people who's business are in the red, don't mind their businesses being torched. Insurance companies hate to cut a check!

  38. Jay Contreras says:

    Bwire Vincent And what was the Wall Street & Auto bailout? Corporate welfare dwarfs ANY social welfare program on the books yet ignorant, oblivious fools continue to talk about black people & 'welfare'. Hell as far as I'm concerned, chattel slavery was the biggest form of social welfare that this country has ever seen & they still getting their benefits from that today.

  39. Jay Contreras says:

    Brandon Rutledge This system continues to operate as it does b/c supposedly 'good' people look the other way and keep silent b/c they don't feel injustice affects them..even some black people. When people, ALL people, realize that what you ALLOW today against those deemed as 'other', will eventually be what is ALLOWED to be perpetrated AGAINST YOU AND YOURS. This capitalist modal of I got mine, you get yours mentality hasn't worked and will NEVER bring about true justice on this planet. In my opinion, we need to separate as much as possible. We have been trying to integrate into an insane asylum. Association eventually brings on similarization.

  40. Jay Contreras says:

    I agree. I stopped shopping at devil-mart years ago. If the richest family on the planet can't be bothered enough to pay their workers living wages but actively direct them to social welfare programs when they could easily raise their base wages; then I cannot be bothered with shopping there. (They openly give their workers info during orientation about applying for programs like food stamps)

  41. Jay Contreras says:

    Jerome Taylor I know..we can turn it into 365 days of black spending power. BUT I also think another aspect that isn't pushed enough is ACTIVELY supporting black businesses, either online or brick & mortar. TRANSFER that wealth back to US. That should be the main objective. Hell, START a family hustle with the money you save. Something that the whole family can participate in. In my opinion, we need to do what EVERY other ethnic group does–shop and support US 1st, and if you have a special talent that is now benefiting OTHERS, think about starting your own biz or side hustle to enrich YOU. We gotta come off that psychological plantation. Become sharecroppers for US.

  42. Jay Contreras says:

    I'd love to see us start businesses with the money we spend on Chri$tma$. If on avg we are spending $600 on Chri$tma$ gifts for things we don't REALLY need–I'd love it if more of us starting small side family hustles that the whole family can participate in. Even if it's a lawn care service or running errands. Even if it's only on the weekends. Black people are the most creative people on this planet–we just need to start back using that creativity and ingenuity for our OWN benefit.

  43. Jay Contreras says:

    Sundiata Keita I have to agree. Ownership is the key or should be the ultimate goal. Not being a front man for somebody else. But ideally you have someone in charge who isn't all about the $ (Bob Johnson comes to mind)..and actually CARES about the black community as a whole in addtion to caring about the bottom line. John H. Johnson comes to mind on that one. It can and has been done.


  45. Jay Contreras says:

    True, but you can usually spot them coming a mile away. They all seem to read from the same talking points. Never deviate. I guess the FBI is too lazy or dumb to update their shyt. Or maybe coming up with these fake terror plots takes up too much of their time and focus. lol..whatever the case, I can still spot paid trolls from a mile away. Usually transparent as hell.

  46. Anmarie Paul says:

    The store owner's lawyer said that they never confirmed nor can they confirm that M. Brown was the person in the store. That interview was on CNN for 5 seconds and never seen again.

  47. Carolyn Falkner says:

    Do argue with racist they come here because they are weak I their daily lives so they come here to feel powerful

  48. Brandon Rutledge says:

    Jay Contreras Love and Respect do exist friend. That's all I'm saying. It all comes from within and I feel it. I see what you are saying but I am confident enough in myself after many years of hard knocks that I can tell who I want to fuck with and who I don't and my assessments cross color lines. I won't try to explain how our societal issues came to be so complicated but I will as a person who means no harm continue to defend my loved ones and continue to get mine for the sole purpose of having my inner circles back. I think in simpler terms. You respect me and I will respect you is what I live by and I'm no fool about it. I have an eye for decency as well as mistreatment .

  49. Eric Winkle says:

    What is with this certain race empowerment crap??!!!! Not white! Not Black! Not Chinese or Dutch, but HUMAN!! That is why racism will never die, because races divide from others!!!

  50. truly, in reading comments, negativity, ridicule, and out and out hate is the essence of the problem in the world, intolerance of another life is what's the matter not racism. Please realize what it really is instead of placing blame everywhere, it starts with each and every person, EVERYONE.

  51. Kim Thompson says:

    Barry M. Goodknight is running out of insults just like the rest of his cohorts. Whites have historically been the largest beneficiaries of welfare programs and he KNOWS it. Ask your mother Barry.

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