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Truth Behind the Headlines: Black Friday emissions boom predicted

The press are predicting that an online retail bonanza, brought on by lockdown, and a record breaking Black Friday are going to cause an emissions boom.


They reference a report released by that revealed that online shopping on Black Friday this year is predicted to release around 429,000 tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  One consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a general increase in online shopping and the report reveals that although 85% of consumers plan to shop for Black Friday deals, just 1 in 10 shoppers (11.72%) factor carbon friendly delivery into their decision when purchasing online.


The authors note that the expectation of immediacy in our deliveries in conjunction with a spike in demand means that firms must hire additional staff who use their own – often less efficient vehicles – and are unable to plan the most efficient routes.

Using our recommended five tips, Global Action Plan reviewed the study:


Questions to ask to get to the truth Our response
1. Does the article refer to a report to back up its claims?

The article refers to The Dirty Delivery Report from price comparison website

2. Who is behind the study it refers to? is an online comparison service that allows individuals to compare thousands of financial products. They offer tools and filters to help people make informed financial decisions.

3. How fantastical and radical is the claim that is being made?

The researchers used the information produced by PriceRunner that revealed Black Friday 2020 is likely to increase online sales by around 14%. They combined this with Barclaycard information on Black Friday transactions from 2019 to determine that a full day of Black Friday purchases this year will result in 116,619,264 individual transactions.


They assumed that each of those individual transactions resulted in one medium-sized parcel being delivered (which according to ASOS produces 3.68kg of CO2). From this information they were able to calculate that 429,158,892kg or 429,158.89 tonnes of CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere through our online purchases this Black Friday. 


4. What geographical region does the claim refer to?


5. What is the sample size of the study?

The study applied their calculations to five of the UK’s top delivery companies; Hermes, Royal Mail, DPD, Yodel and City Sprint.


The study also analysed the annual sustainability statements released by 12 major parcel delivery companies in the UK to determine which companies are committed to cutting the carbon cost of home deliveries.


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