Black Friday: a capitalist’s fortune, a shopper’s despair

28th November 2014. The dawn of the Christmas shopping season. Retail profit in its finest hour. A hungry anticipation for consumer goods lingers in the air of shopping malls and supermarkets up and down the UK a midst a certain degree of ‘dog eat dog’ ruthlessness brought out in the individual only on this, very ‘special’, day of the year. Black Friday.

One of the more unorthodox and contentious holiday events, Black Friday has been shipped over to the UK from the States and is traditionally the day proceeding Thanksgiving, notorious for large scale sales across the spectrum of commercial retail. This year has not failed to live up to expectations, with deals such as 40 inch televisions for under £200, 50% or more off certain clothing brands and a multitude of seemingly discounted goods which are a complete ‘steal’.

But these bargains come with a price that is potentially much more damaging than the cost to your bank account. As shops open their doors to this one day a year frenzy, they invite chaos. This year we have seen social media infused with images, videos and stories of Black Friday madness. Vine sees fully grown adults physically fighting over large appliances and electronic goods, mouthing abuse at one another among the crowds. To put it lightly, some of the footage uploaded to the internet this year portrays shamefully irrational behaviour that can only be described as pure greed.

The cynical argument against this kind of thing is not only the sheer anger that these sale events seem to incite in the masses, but that this anger has arisen from an unfathomable desire to haul in products which are not only unnecessary but are not always even good deals at all. From an environmental perspective, I can imagine that the waste produced from the discarding of thousands upon thousands of items only months later is one of the ugliest aspects of the mass consumerist lifestyle we are immersed in.

On the contrary, it can be argued that this day offers nothing than the Boxing Day sales do not; no better a deal and no worse a scene of shoppers conflicting. I suspect that there are some truly good deals to be sought after and a chance to complete the Christmas shopping substantially earlier and cheaper than usual is surely a great thing. However, looking back to its American roots – retail rioting after a joyous and thoughtful Thanksgiving? I cannot help but look cynically upon the motives of the event, refusing to turn a blind eye to the marketing techniques which paint an all-too-pretty picture for consumers, the paint hot enough to scorch craters into the pockets of the purchasers.

Simply fancying a bit a of good deal before Christmas of course cannot be dismissed so long as the fine line between sanity and being pushed, shoved and trampled on in aid of 70% off that blender you REALLY needed, is not crossed or even approached.

So, if you do insist on going all out, perhaps the answer is to save your energy, your limbs and your petrol and consider trawling for your Black Friday deals online. Happy shopping!

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