One day a year, millions of Americans ‘celebrate’ Black Friday: the day after Thanksgiving that marks the beginning of the pre-Christmas sale season. For an outside observer, Black Friday seems to be an excuse to go wild in malls and shopping centers across the US, with shoppers spending massive amounts of money on Christmas presents and heavily discounted household goods.
It seems that every year the Black Friday phenomenon gets wilder and wilder. The number of people getting injured, arrested and even killed is growing, and the amounts of money being spent can sometimes beggar belief.
This year, the Black Friday phenomenon has flown across the Atlantic and forced its way into the UK’s commercial calendar. Having kept an eye on the news and reading the papers, I think I for one can say that I won’t be joining in. Witnesses have described customers descending upon discounted merchandise like ‘locusts’ and ‘savages’ – not the sort of thing that makes you feel at ease.
Don’t get me wrong, we all like a good sale. However, penning myself up with thousands of other shoppers, to eventually be herded into stores like an animal, really doesn’t appeal in any way. One shopper in Bristol was arrested within minutes of his local Asda opening, having become angry and violent when told he wasn’t allowed to buy two televisions. What a great story to tell the grandkids about Black Friday.
In the US a staggering 67 people have been injured in Black Friday chaos since 2006. Tragically, 4 people have died in the same timeframe, but apparently this hasn’t stopped anyone or scared people into staying away.
Last November, Black Friday was mentioned on Twitter over 5 million times and had its own hashtag trend. The sad truth would seem to be that we’ve come to accept Black Friday as a part of life.
Everyone is on the lookout for a bargain at this time of year. Christmas is an expensive holiday, and few of us would turn down a chance to make it more affordable. However, the kind of manic frenzy being displayed around the Black Friday sales is pretty disturbing. I’m no Grinch, but when people are putting themselves in harms way for a TV, surely there’s something wrong.
What then for the shopper who’s looking for deals but mindful of their health? Well, there’s another date in the shopping calendar that’s even more recent than Black Friday. Held on the Monday after the Friday after Thanksgiving, many of the biggest online retailers unveil their discounts on Cyber Monday. So if you’re looking for a way to keep a few quid in your wallet this festive season, it could be that you’ll find the biggest, and the healthiest, deals on the internet.
You never know – one day they might be delivered right to your back door by your very own flying butler!