By Jakob Van Calster
GHENT, Belgium (Reuters) - Black Friday deals have prompted a backlash in Belgium where some businesses rejected promotions and chose to close for the day or even offered to repair used clothes for free.
At the Xandres clothing store, in the Flemish city of Ghent, a sign on the window read "Green Friday - closed on November 25 - get your clothes repaired for free".
Signs in the apparel chain's outlets have invited customers in recent weeks to take torn or worn clothing to the store to get it repaired for free. On Friday company staff were fixing customers' clothes at the company's headquarters.
In coming days, customers can collect their repaired clothing at the company's stores.
"The idea behind Black Friday is to buy as much clothing as possible at the biggest discount possible. That does not match our sustainability philosophy," Xandres Chief Executive Patrick Desrumaux, 50, told Reuters.
"You cannot buy anything at all from us today. All our shops are closed, the webshop is closed and instead of selling we are going to grant a longer life to clothes by repairing all the clothes that were brought in," he said.
Many shoppers in the medieval port city could not agree more.
"If I need something, I'll buy it when I need it. I don't believe in Black Friday prices. I've always had the feeling we're being ripped off: first prices go up, then you get a discount on that," said retired florist Bart Vanderelsken.
Xandres was not the only outlet resisting the Black Friday frenzy.
Home and garden accessories chain Dille & Kamille closed all its shops in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as its webshop, and suggested customers take a nature walk, feed the birds or volunteer at environmental organisations.
"You will find happiness in nature, not in discounts," read a sign on its Ghent shop.
Tycho Van Hauwaert, a circular economy expert at environmental group BBL, said he expects more stores will join the Green Friday trend as consumers make the link between their purchasing behaviour and climate change.
"Black Friday only fans the flame of consumption of throwaway goods ... circularity should become the norm, which means products that last longer, products that can be repaired, products that are recyclable," he said.
(Reporting by Jakob Van Calster; Writing by Jakob Van Calster and Geert De Clercq)