Published on
the Chicago Tribune

'Buy Nothing Day' Protests Planned

Tara Malone

People choose winter coats for themselves donated as part the 'Buy Nothing Day' coat exchange, on 'Black Friday' in Pawtucket, Rhode Island November 28, 2008. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Early-bird shoppers might find a few other zombies in their midst this Black Friday - protesters dressed as zombies, that is.

"Buy Nothing Day" activists plan to don the ghoulish get-ups as they parade past shops along Chicago's Magnificent Mile. The zombies reportedly will gather just after 7 a.m. to greet shoppers hoping to get a jump on the holiday discounts.

Organizers say their aim is simple: to promote a day of non-spending in the face of the traditional holiday shopping splurge.

"It has a very dark edge to it this year," said Kalle Lasn, who co-founded Adbusters Media Foundation, the Canada-based "anti-consumerist" outfit that coordinates "Buy Nothing Day." Protests occurred in 68 countries last year.

The zombie stunt isn't unique to Chicago. The ploy emerged five years ago, its shock value making it a popular form of protest.

"Young people just like to have fun," Lasn said. "It's a good way to get shoppers to say 'What the hell is going on?' And for them perhaps to start questioning what they are doing there."

With or without zombies, retail experts predict holiday sales will fall this year for the first time on record-perhaps by as much as 5 percent-as consumers focus on what they need more than what they want.

Such economic realities could inspire more people to abstain from the mass consumerism. But newbies beware: Achieving a purchase-free day can be surprisingly tough.

"Suppressing the impulse to buy is like giving up smoking. It's an addiction," Lasn said. "A lot of people break down around midafternoon and buy a Mars bar or a coffee. It's a very personal thing."

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