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Dark side of Black Friday: the major drawbacks with this shopping bonanza

Most people do it online – here’s how to buy without wreaking havoc.



Golib Golib Tolibov

Black Friday is upon us again. It’s one of the biggest shopping events of the year, although there are mixed signals about how successful it is likely to be in 2021. One recent study found that only a third of consumers plan to take part. The financial strain of COVID-19 is still evident, and inflation running at its highest level in a decade.

All the same, consumer confidence has been rising. According to GlobalData, shoppers are set to spend nearly £9.2 billion in the four days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. This would still be a big increase on the £8 billion spent in 2020, and also the £8.6 billion in 2019.

Whether or not Black Friday ends up meeting retailers’ expectations, it comes with a major problem: a huge proportion of the shopping will be happening online. Black Friday orders online rocketed during the COVID lockdowns of 2020, and are forecast to rise sharply again this year – GlobalData forecasts this will comprise almost two-thirds of all sales, compared to only 44% in 2019. This shift is bad news for the environment – and it will exacerbate the problems that the supply chain has been experiencing in recent months.

How we’re misled

Black Friday started in the mid-1960s as a post-Thanksgiving sale in the US. It has since gained popularity around the world. But the idea that it’s one big day of discounts is misleading for several reasons.

The genuineness of deals is often questionable. And this year, reduced inventory, long shipping delays, and labour shortages are likely to mean that even fewer stores will offer deep discounts than usual. A Which? study has found that the overwhelming majority of deals have been cheaper or the same price at other times of the year.

Many stores also extend the sales event from a single day to a longer period – often trying to tempt consumers for much of November. This can dilute the event in consumers’ minds, though it does make it easier for operations to keep up with demand. This should at least be helping retailers in a year with so many supply chain problems. In best pandemic-speak, this is a way to “flatten the curve” and spread the pressure on staff, warehouses and logistics.

Meanwhile, some retailers are boycotting Black Friday entirely. About 85% of independent retailers in the UK will not participate, instead shutting down their websites for the day or donating part of their sales to charity. This is being billed as a protest against over-consumption and its environmental impact. It also highlights that smaller businesses are often at a disadvantage, unable to compete with the discounts of large retailers or handle the operational complexities.

Getting products to people

Black Friday means that very high volumes of products need to travel through the various logistics channels. Spikes in demand are difficult to handle for supply chains at the best of times. And with a host of ongoing issues ranging from a shortage of microchips to not enough HGV drivers, retailers are under more pressure than usual.

This is generating a high demand for staff – especially in view of severe shortages in the labour market. Royal Mail and Amazon each announced in October that they were aiming to hire 20,000 temporary staff to cope with consumer demand at the tail end of the year. Amazon has been offering one-off payments of up to £3,000 to attract new staff, while many retailers have been offering signing-on bonuses to drivers in recent months.

Forklift driver with a bundle of parcels
Logistics is hiring. Amit.pansuriya

The increase in online shopping also reshapes urban delivery patterns – and bear in mind that the dominance of e-commerce means that many products will still be on their way for days after the sale. Rather than a large amount of products being sent to one store, shipments become smaller and more fragmented. Single items have to be dropped off at individual houses. This means that more drivers are needed to deliver the same amount of products to our doorsteps. Warehousing and packaging also becomes more complex.

One factor contributing to the lack of lorry drivers is that some qualified HGV drivers decided to switch to driving local delivery vans instead. Not only is demand for delivery drivers high, working hours can be more appealing. Consumers need to realise that all the parcels they order and the rows of empty supermarket shelves are all part of the same system.

Black day for the environment

The carbon emissions we create from buying a simple t-shirt online can be four times higher than buying it in a physical store. To put this in perspective, it would take 30 days for one common broadleaf tree to absorb the carbon emissions created by buying a T-shirt online (0.81kg).

The COP26 climate conference will have raised many consumers’ awareness of the importance of securing global net zero by mid-century to keep 1.5℃ global warming within reach. Unbridled consumerism with the impulse buys that Black Friday can create is a big contributor to emissions.

It is true that many logistics companies are investing heavily in more environmentally friendly alternatives like electric vehicles or deliveries by cargo bike. The carbon footprint of home delivery should therefore at least be improving over time.

Nonetheless, consumers should be looking to alternatives. Many retailers provide a click and collect option. This allows customers to pick up their items at their convenience, for example on their way to work, without adding any extra trips and emissions.

Parcel lockers offer another convenient and environment-friendly alternative. They can help to reduce congestion by allowing multiple items to be delivered to one location rather than individually to customers’ homes. They also have a high potential to save costs, lower required driver hours, and take complexity out of the delivery system.

Such arrangements also help reduce the number of failed deliveries. As many as 24% of e-commerce retailers admit that more than one in ten orders aren’t delivered on the first attempt, creating further emissions for re-delivery or customer pick up. And virtually all of these organisations say that they sometimes have deliveries that fail altogether.

So before indulging in the next shopping spree, consumers need to take a moment to consider what happens behind the scenes. The pandemic has compounded our growing fondness for online shopping, and Black Friday looks likely to confirm that there is no end in sight.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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“The Omicron Variant” – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

"The Omicron Variant" – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

Authored by Kit Knightly via,

Yesterday the WHO labelled the sars-cov-2 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and officially named it “Omicron”.




"The Omicron Variant" – Magic Pills, Or Solving The Africa Problem?

Authored by Kit Knightly via,

Yesterday the WHO labelled the sars-cov-2 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and officially named it “Omicron”.

This was as entirely predictable as it is completely meaningless. The “variants” are just tools to stretch the story out and keep people on their toes.

If you want to know exactly how the Omicron variant is going to affect the narrative, well The Guardian has done a handy “here’s all the bullshit we’re gonna sell you over the next couple of weeks” guide:

  • The Omicron variant is more transmissable, but they don’t know if it’s more dangerous yet (keeping their options open)

  • It originated in Africa, possible mutating in an “untreated AIDS patient” (sick people are breeding grounds for dangerous “mutations”)

  • “it has more than double the mutations of Delta…scientists anticipate that the virus will be more likely to infect – or reinfect – people who have immunity to earlier variants. (undermining natural immunity, selling more boosters, keeping the scarefest going)

  • “Scientists are concerned” that current vaccines may not be as effective against the new strain, they may need to be “tweaked” (get your boosters, and the new booster we haven’t invented yet)

  • “Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, will work as effectively against the new variant” (more on this later)

  • It’s already spreading around the world, and travel bans may be needed to prevent the need for another lockdown

We’re already seeing preparations for more “public health measures”, with the press breathlessly quoting “concerned” public health officials. We’re being told that a new lockdown won’t be necessary…as long as we remember to get boosted and wear masks and blah blah blah.

Generally speaking, it’s all fairly boilerplate scary nonsense. Although it is quite funny that the Biden administration has already put a bunch of African nations on a travel ban list, when Biden called Trump a racist for doing the same thing in 2020.


It’s interesting that the new variant has allegedly come from Africa, perhaps “mutating in the body of an AIDS patient”, since Africa has been the biggest hole in the Covid narrative for well over a year.

Africa is by far the poorest continent, it is densely populated, malnourishment and extreme poverty are endemic across many African nations, and it is home to more AIDS patients than the entire rest of the world combined. And yet, no Covid crisis.

This is a weak point in the story, and always has been.

Last Summer, the UK’s virus modeller-in-chief Neil Ferguson attempted to explain it by arguing that African nations have, on average, younger populations than the rest of the world, and Covid is only a threat to the elderly. But five minutes of common sense debunks that idea.

The reason Africa has a younger population, on average, is that – on average – they are much sicker.

There are diseases endemic to large parts of Africa that are all but wiped out in most of the Western world. Cholera, typhus, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria. Access to clean water, and healthcare are also much more limited.

And while it has been nailed into the public mind that being elderly is the biggest risk factor for Covid, that is inaccurate. In fact, the biggest risk factor for dying “of Covid” is, and always has been, already dying of something else.

The truth is that any REAL dangerous respiratory virus would have cut a bloody swath across the entire continent.

Instead, as recently as last week, we were getting articles about how Africa “escaped Covid”, and the continent’s low covid deaths with only 6% of people vaccinated is “mystifying” and “baffling” scientists.

Politically, African nations have shown themselves far less likely to buy into the “pandemic” narrative than their European, Asian or American counterparts. At least two “Covid denying” African presidents – Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and John Magufuli of Tanzania – have died suddenly in the last year, and seen their successors immediately reverse their covid policies.

So maybe the Omicron Variant is a way of trying to fold Africa into the covid narrative that the other continents have already fully embraced. That will become clear as the story develops.

Of course, it’s also true that being “African” is media shorthand for being scary, relying on the deeply-seated xenophobia of Western audiences. See: “Africanized killer bees”.

But, either way, Africa is the long game. There’s a more obvious, and more cynical, short term agenda here.


Let’s go back to the Guardian’s “Omicron” bullet points, above:

  • Scientists are concerned by the number of mutations and the fact some of them have already been linked to an ability to evade existing [vaccine-created] immune protection.

  • Scientists expect that recently approved antiviral drugs, such as Merck’s pill, [will work effectively] against the new variant

The “new variant” is already being described as potentially resistant to the vaccines, but NOT the new anti-viral medications.

Pharmaceutical giants Merck and Pfizer are both working on “Covid pills”, which as recently as three days ago, were being hyped up in the press:

US may have a ‘game changer’ new Covid pill soon, but its success will hinge on rapid testing

In the US, an emergency use authorisation can only be issued if there is no effective medication or treatment already available, so the vaccines not being proof against Omicron would be vital to rushing the pills onto the US market, at least.

If Omicron is found to be “resistant to the vaccines”, but NOT the pills, that will give governments an excuse to rush through approving the pills on an EUA, just as they did with the vaccines.

So, you bet your ass that testing is gonna be “rapid”. Super rapid. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rapid. Rapid to the point you’re not even sure it definitely happened. And now they have an excuse.

Really, it’s all just more of the same.

A scare before the new year. An excuse to make people believe their Christmas could be in peril. An exercise in flexing their control muscles a bit, milking even more money out of the double-jabbed and boosted crowd, now newly terrified of the Omicron variant, and a nice holiday bump to Pfizer’s ever-inflating stock price.

At this point either you can see the pattern, or you can’t. You’re free of the fear machinery, or you’re not.

There is one potential silver lining here: It feels rushed and frantic. Discovered on Tuesday, named on Friday, travel bans on Saturday. It is hurried, and maybe that’s a reaction to feeling like the “pandemic” is losing its grip on the public mind.

Hopefully, as the narrative becomes more and more absurd, more and more people will wake up to reality.

It has been pointed out that “Omicron” is an anagram of “moronic”.

One wonders if that’s deliberate and they’re making fun of us.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 23:45

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Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel’s Knesset is set to hold a special emergency "coronavirus cabinet" late Saturday night where government officials will vote on enacting a complete closure of…



Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel's Knesset is set to hold a special emergency "coronavirus cabinet" late Saturday night where government officials will vote on enacting a complete closure of the country to foreign travel. The ban will tentatively be in effect for the next two weeks.

Already Israel has banned all foreigners arriving from the majority of African countries in recent days on fears that the highly-mutated Omicron coronavirus variant, which first emerged in South Africa, could be the next deadly wave - and with the vaccine possibly doing little to stop it.

AFP/Getty Images

The greatly tightened travel and tourist restrictions are expected to be announced late Saturday night or early Sunday. It's expected to also include a new mandatory quarantine of three days or more for vaccinated Israeli citizens who've returned from traveling abroad. For unvaccinated inbound Israeli citizens the quarantine will be a week.

The fresh travel rules come as authorities scramble to do contact tracing on exposures related to at least one confirmed Omicron case:

Authorities are scrambling to locate 800 Israelis who may have been exposed to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, a defense official said Saturday.

The Health Ministry confirmed one case of the new variant in Israel, and said there were seven other suspected cases who were awaiting test results.

Four of the suspected cases returned to Israel recently from international travel, and three had not traveled, raising fears of community transmission in Israel.

Prime Minister Bennett ahead of the vote said the government is "preparing for any scenario." And concerning the new still somewhat mysterious variant, the country's interior minister said, "It looks like it might be more infectious, so we’re taking action as fast as possible."

Just days ago the health minister Nitzan Horowitz announced that Israelis will likely have to get a fourth shot, also as children between the ages of 5 to 11 have begun receiving the jab. Ironically the foreign tourist ban is now being re-imposed for one of the most highly vaxxed nations on earth.

At least 80% of all Israelis 16 and older are now considered fully vaccinated.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 23:15

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Mexican Authorities List Conditions To Reboot “Remain In Mexico” Program

Mexican Authorities List Conditions To Reboot "Remain In Mexico" Program

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,

Mexican authorities have laid out a series of conditions for reviving the “Remain in Mexico” program, the Trump-era…



Mexican Authorities List Conditions To Reboot "Remain In Mexico" Program

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,

Mexican authorities have laid out a series of conditions for reviving the “Remain in Mexico” program, the Trump-era framework under which asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico to await the processing of their claims, with the development coming in context of the Biden administration’s plans to reinstate the policy following a court order.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a Nov. 26 announcement that talks have “intensified” with the United States on rebooting the program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), but that Mexican authorities are waiting for a formal response from the Biden administration on a number of concerns.

“The government of Mexico … has raised various concerns of a humanitarian nature regarding the asylum procedure in the United States,” the ministry said, adding that it has “highlighted the need to improve conditions for migrants and asylum seekers, so that they have better legal advice” regarding the processing of their clams, which Mexico said, “must be carried out as expeditiously as possible.”

One of the conditions is for the United States to accelerate development programs for southern Mexico and Central America in order to address the root causes of migration.

Another is for Washington to offer individuals deported under the MPP program medical care and vaccination against COVID-19 “to protect their right to health and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities on both sides of the border.”

Mexico has also requested that the United States respect designated return points, taking into account local security conditions and the capacity of Mexican authorities “to provide adequate care to migrants.”

Another “essential” request is for Washington to provide funding for shelters and non-government organizations “in order to improve conditions for migrants and asylum seekers in a substantive way.”

The demands come as talks between the two countries continue on reimplementing the MPP program after a court in August ordered that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reverse its June decision to halt the policy.

“In compliance with the court order, we are working to reimplement MPP as promptly as possible,” DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa told Axios.

”We cannot do so until we have the independent agreement from the Government of Mexico to accept those we seek to enroll in MPP,” Espinosa added.

“We will communicate to the court, and to the public, the timing of reimplementation when we are prepared to do so.”

The Biden administration is facing an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration that critics say is fostered by its lax enforcement policies, including halting MPP and curtailing the use of Title 42, which is used to expel illegal immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 16:45

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