Shoppers took to the streets and scrolled online during the annual Black Friday sales phenomenon as protests were expected around the world over environmental concerns and consumer culture.
The National Retail Federation expects 165 million people shopping in stores and online this weekend as consumers fill their carts with deeply discounted electronics, clothes, home goods and more. Americans spent a record $4.4 billion online on Thanksgiving Day, according to Adobe Analytics. Nearly half of those purchases were purchased on smartphones, up 19 percent from last year.
But as the sales frenzy has grown and expanded beyond the United States, it has also prompted demonstrations from environmental activists as well as anti-consumerism and workers’ rights protests.
Climate strikes were expected to take place in cities across the world Friday, in the latest series of youth-led protests demanding environmental action.
In France, activists held protested against massive online retailer Amazon and consumerism, with some forming a blockade at a Paris shopping mall.
Dozens of others protested outside an Amazon headquarters in Paris, according to Reuters.
Some demonstrators held up signs saying, “No to Amazon and its world.”
Manon Aubry, a left-wing member of the European Parliament, said on Twitter the protest was intended to "denounce the social, environmental and fiscal damage from Amazon."
Scenes from Black Friday 2019
Scenes from Black Friday 2019
People shop at Macy's department store during Black Friday shopping, Friday Nov. 29, 2019, in New York. Black Friday shoppers fought for parking spots and traveled cross-state to their favorite malls, kicking off a shortened shopping season that intensified the mad scramble between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Shoppers squeeze through the doors at Belks at Hamilton Place as Black Friday shopping kicked off early Friday, Nov. 29, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Young people protests against Black Friday, Nov 29, 2019, in Bayonne, southwestern France. Placard at left reads "The war against climate inaction is engaged". Some French lawmakers want to ban the Black Friday sales, the post-Thanksgiving sales event that has morphed into a global phenomenon. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Shoppers wait for the Black Friday 6 a.m. opening of an At Home store in Frisco, Texas, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The 2019 holiday season will be a good measure of the U.S. economy’s health. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Extinction Rebellion members with banner that speaks ' Do not buy - you already have everything ' during a anti- Black Friday flashmob are seen in Gdansk, Poland on 29 November 2019 Extinction Rebellion members call for a reduction in consumption, that generates environmental pollution and climate change. (Photo by Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An employee posts discount signs for shoppers at Macy's department store during Black Friday shopping, Friday Nov. 29, 2019, in New York. Black Friday shoppers fought for parking spots and traveled cross-state to their favorite malls, kicking off a shortened shopping season that intensified the mad scramble between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
An climate protester is detained by police inside a store window display during a Black Friday sale in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul White)
A woman holds a placard reading 'Black Friday not compatible with the blue planet'. Following the call of Greta Thunberg for a World School Strike, thousands of school students and students took to the streets of Toulouse to denounce the governments inaction towards the climate crisis and demanding stronger action to rein in climate change. They demand to governments do more to protect the environment. The protests come ahead of the annual U.N. climate conference that starts in Madrid on Monday. Similar protests took place all over the world. Toulouse. France. November 29th 2019. (Photo by Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 29: Tourists and shoppers from around the world crowd the flagship sores along 5th Avenue on Black Friday on November 29, 2019 in midtown Manhattan, New York City. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season that stores promote with discount sales. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
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In Germany, workers at Amazon distribution centers have gone on strike for better pay.
Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.
In New York City, another group said it planned to convene at a store and push empty shopping carts “in a lengthy chain of non-shoppers,” weaving through the store aisles and inviting shoppers to take a break from the “destructive frenzy of consumerism.”
Environmental group Extinction Rebellion called on potential shoppers to boycott Black Friday and join the planned climate strikes instead, saying the sales tradition “may seem like a bargain” but it’s “costing the Earth.”
“Consumerism is destroying our planet,” the group said in a Thanksgiving Day social media post. “We do not have infinite resources, yet the system continues to persuade us all that we need to constantly buy more of everything.”
And in California, protesters in Santa Monica were expected to boycott Black Friday shopping to demand action in response to climate change.