Merry Christmas everyone! It might still be November but it’s fair to say that the UK’s festive period begins today – and what better way to start the celebrations than with a splurge of barely-contained consumerism?
At this wonderful time of year, families should be thinking about where to buy their Christmas tree and singing festive songs; instead, they are celebrating the most moronic day of the year – Black Friday.
Yet another “cultural” import from our American friends, Black Friday was unheard of in the UK until a few years ago. Now, blown out of all proportion by over-the-top, frenzied media coverage, it seems those of us who aren’t queuing outside our local major supermarket in freezing temperatures to get their hands on the latest goods are relics of a bygone age – a time when the size of one’s TV or the cost of their super-duper, magic latte machine wasn’t the most important thing in the world.
Even by 21st century standards, the cynicism of the day is striking. “SALES MADNESS”, “WEBSITE CRASHES DUE TO DEMAND”, “MAN GRAPPLES OTHER IDIOT OVER TELEVISION AT WEMBLEY SUPERSTORE.” These are the headlines – and ones the national media are more than happy to provide – that the retailers want. But all it does is encourage more and more of us to fear we are missing out on something we simply must have – even if we can’t afford or need it.
And this, for me, is the crux of the issue. Sure, it’s funny to laugh at the crassness, the rampant indulgence, the sheer awfulness of grown adults fighting with each other over an Xbox, but the frenzied nature of what Black Friday has become now convinces people that they must take part, that they must buy, like the happy consumers they are.
The UK’s long-standing love affair with debt and plastic is well-known. Days like Black Friday simply heap yet more pressure on families to stretch themselves even further at what is already an expensive time of year.
Stick it on the card and it’ll be fine.
Well it might not be – 10% off £500 is still a lot of money whoever you are or whatever you earn. So next year, wouldn’t it be great if we tell the retailers, the supermarkets and the tech stores that their promotions simply aren’t worth it?