How should (and shouldn’t) retailers honor Juneteenth?
Juneteenth (June 19), which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., last week was designated as a federal holiday, creating opportunities and challenges for retailers.
Like most others, the holiday could evolve into a big sales day. Last summer’s protests following the murder of George Floyd raised awareness about systemic racism. Numerous surveys have shown Americans increasingly looking to support Black-owned businesses.
In recent years, many parades, food and music festivals and events directly supporting Black-owned businesses have arrived tied to Juneteenth.
In Detroit, a Juneteenth Jubilee Stroll was held on the day, featuring education, music and artistry as well as a showcase for 46 Black-owned businesses offering discounts along the Avenue of Fashion on Livernois.
For the second year in a row, Black-owned restaurants around Chicago and Atlanta offered food on special for either $6.19 or $16.19 on June 18 and 19. Black People Eats, the organizer, was hoping to generate $1 million in sales over the two days.
Vanetta Roy, the owner of South Shore seafood restaurant Surf’s Up, told The Chicago Tribune, “It’s a way to support Black culture and to support Black people.”
Mainstream retailers could potentially shine a spotlight on Black-owned brands as people learn more about Juneteenth. A Gallup poll from earlier this year found 62 percent knew little or nothing about the day.
Others believe, however, that Juneteenth should be a day of reflection, more like Veteran’s Day. Home Depot, Nordstrom and Macy’s are among retailers stressing education internally around the day. Nike and Patagonia closed their doors.
Sales and marketing campaigns tied to the new holiday risk being seen as tone-deaf. Old Navy recently halted a campaign involving Black influencers purchasing Juneteenth t-shirts after being accused of seeking to profit on the day.
Some fear commercialism will rob the day of a chance to further galvanize discussions on racial inequality.
“I remember the fight for Martin Luther King Day over the years, and now this is a sales day,” Earl Fowlkes, the president of the Center of Black Equity, told Insider. “Juneteenth is another opportunity for businesses to sell to Black folks and wrap it up.”
- How Brands Should Approach Juneteenth – Advertising Age
- Juneteenth celebration in North Augusta highlights Black-owned businesses – The North Augusta Star
- Most Americans Know Little or Nothing About Juneteenth, Poll Finds – The New York Times
- New push in Baton Rouge to support Black-owned businesses this Juneteenth – WAFB
- Bridget Foley’s Diary: Make Juneteenth a Non-Shopping Holiday – WWD
- Juneteenth pop-up market celebrates Black-owned businesses at the Westgate Mall – The Enterprise
- Old Navy Suspends Its Juneteenth Campaign Following Influencer Backlash – Business of Fashion
- With $1 million goal, Black People Eats enlists 95 Black-owned restaurants in Chicago for Juneteenth special. Search our map to find one near you. – Chicago Tribune
- Businesses bet on Black culture amid demands for racial justice. Now experts warn Juneteenth is next to be whitewashed. – Insider
- Juneteenth festival working to boost Black business for more than the weekend – The Denver Channel
- Most Americans Know About the Juneteenth Holiday – WAFB
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should retailers commemorate Juneteenth? Do you see the potential for Juneteenth to evolve into a major sales holiday, particularly for Black-owned brands and retailers?