It’s the very least I can do. I’ve nothing against Americans, or Thanksgiving. This jolly family-orientated event kicks off the ‘holidays’ and looks like a hoot, but the day after? We really could do without this particular US import right now and forever more.
So please leave me alone with your emails, texts and social media solicitations. I won’t be swayed by promises of huge discounts on everything from televisions and mobile phones to handbags and perfume. Especially now my suspicions have been confirmed – an overwhelming number of Black Friday deals are a con.
Consumer organisation Which? looked at 201 of last year’s Black Friday deals at six major retailers – Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Richer Sounds – and found that around 92 per cent of products (184) were the same price or cheaper in the six months before the big day.
These products included a Zanussi washing machine at John Lewis – £309 on Black Friday but £249 five months earlier and £289 within a month after the day, and a dual fuel range cooker from Argos – £449.99 on Black Friday but the same price 66 times before then and 19 times after.
I’ve never understood the logic of waiting until the month before Christmas to invest in a major piece of tech or home appliance.
If I am reluctantly persuaded or forced to upgrade or replace an item, I’d rather do it when there are no other major calls on disposable income. Or indeed, demands on available credit, especially this year when the prospect of a Bank of England interest rate rise looms over us.
And also, practically, who in their right mind would want to splurge on a new cooker at this time of year? The prospect of producing Christmas dinner is stressful enough even if you’re on long-standing first-name terms with all your kitchen appliances. And what about those ‘supply chain issues’ we hear so much about? The logistics baffle me and I’m not even buying anything.
Seriously however, I was hoping that the rampant competitive consumerism which we’d come to associate with Black Friday before the pandemic would be consigned to history this year.
Clearly, some retailers need to hastily recoup lost profits –but not Amazon, which posted record profits of 220 per cent during the pandemic as people were forced to stay in and shop online – but there is something deeply amoral about forcing people to splurge when so much is still uncertain.
Since the beginning of the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, 3.8 million people in the UK have borrowed just to make ends meet. In addition, 2.8m people have fallen into arrears with bills, including essential utilities such as fuel and water, council tax and rent.
Why would anyone with a conscience encourage these millions of people to spend money they clearly don’t have and fall further into debt?
And then there’s the waste. It’s only days since we were being reminded in no uncertain terms at COP26 that we must slash consumer consumption to save the planet. All Black Friday does is encourage people to buy more stuff made in factories using endless energy, then polluting the environment with their old and discarded items.
Have you been to your local civic amenity site recently, and clocked the perfectly acceptable things people throw away? Have you seen the rubbish fly-tipped by the side of the road by those who can’t even be bothered to drive through the gates?
Surely, with dire warnings on climate change still ringing in our ears, we should all be thinking twice before buying anything that is not strictly necessary.
If not an outright ban, then at least a moratorium on Black Friday would have been in order this year, but we’d need the Government to get on board for that. However, so far Paul Scully, the Minister for Small Business, has been uncharacteristically quiet on the subject.
It’s too late to do anything this year. Instead, I shall be making a point of ignoring it all together, like 85 per cent of independent retailers who have chosen not to participate at all.
As such I’ll be at home, recycling my wrapping paper, on Black Friday after choosing to support those shops that are the lifeblood of my community. I hope you are, too.
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