What is the real cost behind retailers' Black Friday bargains?

If you're an online shopper, you'll know all about Black Friday. It's the Thursday after Thanksgiving in the US and the day that retailers go berserk with great sales.

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New Zealand’s original “fair trader”, Trade Aid founder Vi Cottrell gives her thoughts. Source: Seven Sharp

But New Zealand's original "fair trader" wants to know, what are the costs of those savings?

It's been almost 50 years since Vi Cottrell and her husband Richard began a trading revolution with Trade Aid - and now many of their once "whacky" ideals are mainstream.

"The world's changed a lot in 46 years," Ms Cottrell told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

People's eyes "just glazed over" if you tried to talk to them about fair trade and how it could help people in poverty, she said.

"It was really difficult to go down that path. But now... the buzz is around, particularly with young people."

But while some minds may have changed, change isn't fully there yet.

"I mean look at this Black Friday business that's going to happen," Ms Cottrell said.

"That's just gross consumerism.

"When you think of the people who made those products and what they might've been paid - it's really upsetting."

Ms Cottrell may have taken a step back from day-to-day business at Trade Aid, but she'll still step forward for fair trade.