Black Friday sales have no relevance to us here in Hampshire - opinion page


- Credit: Archant

Did you sell your soul to the seasonal sales? When did getting a good deal come to mean rolling about in the aisles and wrestling with strangers like Neanderthals? Alice Cooke asks, ‘have I missed something here?’

Christmas is a time for giving, but for most (wrongly or rightly) it’s shopping and grabbing a bargain that takes centre stage. And this year was no different. The whole thing kicked off in farcical style as miniature riots ensued country-wide on Black Friday.

What is Black Friday? – Well you may well ask, because it is not something that you might be familiar with. The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later, an alternative explanation was offered – retailers traditionally operate at a financial loss (in the red) from January through to November, and Black Friday indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or in the black.

Black Friday is not English, it’s not British and it’s not even European – it has absolutely no relevance to us here in Hampshire and as far as I can see is just an excuse to put on a sale and whip everyone up into a frenzy - totally bizarre.

Did all those who stampeded to the shops like wildebeest also celebrate other far more important international days, like Constitution Day (the anniversary of a referendum held in Spain on December 1978. In this referendum, a new constitution was approved, an important step in Spain’s transition to becoming a constitutional monarchy and democracy), or Anzac Day (an antipodean day of remembrance commemorating all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations, in case you were wondering). And at least if you choose to mark either of these days you are remembering something important, something relevant, something with a worthy point. Not something basically put there to make big retailers more money.

I don’t know how Black Friday got here, but I would suspect that it has something to do with Asda being owned by Wamart? (This could be unfounded…all alternative suggestions gratefully received.) But however it reached us the issue is two-fold – one that it even got here at all, and two that we used it – and increasingly the whole of the rest of the Christmas season – as an excuse to behave like savages.

When did it ever become acceptable to become violent towards others in pursuit of a bargain? When did it become ok to wrestle like children on the floor in order to save a bit of money on a flat-screen television? When did the British public take leave of their senses? If it wasn’t so tragic it would be funny.

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Is this now what Christmas is about? I am very aware that this message gets touted about every year, but maybe there’s a very good reason for that. I leave you with the very opposite of a Bah Humbug – bring back Christmas and all it should really mean!



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