Having just sat through one of the most shambolic speeches of a major political leader at the CBI conference, in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson compared his watered down
Integrated Rail Plan to some grand act of salvation for the nation’s connectivity, it is increasingly clear that having an, at best casual relationship with the truth, is increasingly permissible in society.
We will see this in sharp relief later in the week when the abomination that is Black Friday rears its ugly head.
Masquerading as the grandest of bargain giveaways, and timed to coincide with the Thanksgiving public holiday, it fires the starting gun on the Christmas shopping season.
Until just a few short years ago it was virtually unheard of on our shores. However, in 2021, my inbox is festooned with emails concerning ‘Black Friday giveaways’. My social media accounts will not stop bombarding me with adverts for so-called deals. I am counting the seconds until this nonsense goes away.
I am not one to bad mouth America or Americans in any shape or form. My experiences of travelling there and meeting its citizens have been extremely positive (a tip – Cleveland in Ohio is one of the coolest cities you will ever visit).
But the Black Friday monstrosity it has bequeathed to the world is one of its all-time worst cultural exports.
Why do I feel this way?
Well, it’s a con. That’s why, pure and simple.
I refer readers to research this week from the august and trusted consumer magazine Which? that showcased this in full.
Its highly credentialed researchers showed that as many as nine in 10 Black Friday ‘deals’ are the same price or cheaper in the six months beforehand.
When the consumer group applied its analysis to 201 of last year’s Black Friday deals at six major retailers, around 92 per cent of products (184), which included popular items such as washing machines, soundbars and TVs, were the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday.
In some cases, shoppers may be better off biding their time and seeing if the price of a product falls further.
During the six months after Black Friday, nearly all (98.5 per cent) of the products Which? looked at were cheaper or the same price at some point.
Which? said shoppers should do some research to help them hunt down the deals that really are a bargain, with its retail editor, Ele Clark, advising readers to “beat the hype”.
While I am no expert in retail I do have a solution to the Black Friday hysteria, and one that builds on Ms Clark’s recommendation.
My suggestion is this: boycott it.
Better yet, completely ignore it.
This weekend stay clear of any online retail apps or websites. Give it a rest for at least 48 hours.
Instead have a walk or catch a bus to your nearest gathering of physical retail stores.
Try as hard as you can to pick out independent retailers.
Spend an hour or more browsing the shelves. Talk to the owners and staff and ask them for personal recommendations. I can guarantee you they will have these in absolute spades.
They will be only too happy to discuss this with you. Remember, this time last year we were in lockdown. Seeing you come through the doors will make their heart sing.
Get some ideas for what your family and friends may want to unwrap on Christmas Day and make some purchases. Why not grab a coffee or a quick drink before heading home?
That way you will have ensured your nearest and dearest get something special for Christmas. That way you will have helped support your local community.
And that way you will have got yourself a decent set of deals that didn’t constitute a total rip-off.
Remember how glad you were when the shops reopened. Don’t take them for granted. Do what’s right for your family, your community and most of all, yourself.