Consumerism gone mad

Whether it’s an unconscious effort to distance ourselves from our closest neighbours or a natural gravitation towards those who share our language (after a fashion!), we as a nation seem more inclined to look towards the US for our cultural inspiration than we do towards Europe.

As an island nation we have always been fiercely independent. For hundreds of years we have refused to be dictated to by other nations. But since the mid twentieth century that has been somewhat on the decline. We are increasingly influenced by American ideas and seems more than happy adopt whatever crazy ideas they come up with.

The latest American import into our daily lives is Black Friday! It is only the Americans who can follow a day when they come together to give thanks for their good fortunes with an orgy of commercialism. The founding fathers would be horrified I think.

For a week now there have been advertising campaigns from all the big retailers promising unbeatable savings on almost everything from a pair of gloves to a second hand car. Thankfully this year we did not see a repeat of the hostility and rampant greed that made last year’s event such an embarrassing mess.

I am sure that there are people out there who did manage to secure themselves a bargain and are happy with their day. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the shop workers. Many of them will have had to start work at some ungodly hour just to ensure that everything was ready for the frenzy their employers anticipated. In fact, most of the day’s trading seems to have been online and many shopping centres and stores did not get anything like the numbers of customers they were expecting.

But for many, Friday was just the beginning as most retails are stretching the whole crazy thing over the whole weekend, or even in some cases, beyond. I only hope that they find their efforts were not worth it and that we can return this unnecessary import back where it came from.

Not that this will make a lot of difference. Even now businesses are laying their plans for the next round of sales due to start on Boxing Day. Once again it is the poor shop floor staff who will have to cut short their Christmas holiday to feed our ever growing consumer greed. The one certainty is that I won’t be visiting any shops on Boxing Day, as I didn’t on Friday either. I like a bargain as much as the next person but the thought of being part of the sales frenzy horrifies me – I can’t think of a worse way to spend a day off work.