The UK Black Friday shopping 2014 Scrums Are So Shaming
Who’d have thought that we’d see a time when shopping would destroy a sense of patriotism? I’m talking about Black Friday a retailers heaven and a consumer’s hell if they do not get the bargain they are looking for.
The retail discount extravaganza, imported from America, estimated to be worth more £500m in UK online sales alone. However, it is best represented in Britain by the undignified sight of our grown countrymen and women sliding across shop floors, sometimes on their faces, in order to grab a discounted television or (reportedly one of this year’s “hot” items) a coffee maker.
Watching the public skirmishes and the police being called and arrests made. As an asset finance expert I was bewildered, even with Christmas coming up, exactly how badly do people want a 3D television, a top in the wrong size or a camera they can’t use properly? As for coffee makers – what prompted this seemingly sudden unfettered mass desire to make posh frothy drinks in one’s home?
Black Friday 2014 was not for sissies
It involved arrests, fights, biting, pinching, kicking, punching, being knocked to the ground, massive, scary scrums pushing through doors, people climbing over displays, items yanked out of other people’s hands and trollies, attacks on staff and other shoppers, people refusing to leave shops when stock ran out. And, finally police arriving to restore public order.
Black Friday Shopping 2014 can’t be framed as a damning indictment of an impoverished 21st-century society in economic meltdown, with people desperately grabbing at presents for their kin. Of course there are horribly cash-strapped people trying to get Christmas sorted for their families, and good luck to them, but I’d imagine the majority of those people would have been stoically searching for gifts online and elsewhere for some time, not waiting to indulge in shopping as an extreme sport, in which at least one person ended up injured by a falling TV.
Black Friday be dismissed as an unwelcome American import. British shopping fever has long been with us – we just called it the sales and laughed at people prepared to sleep overnight on cold pavements for tumble dryers. Thus Black Friday is merely the latest manifestation of the longstanding British sales gene.
In the past, I’ve certainly not been above employing my own Christmas shopping “superpowers” – scrabbling with the best of them for the last bashed fragrance set. The difference is that I don’t recall us biting each other.
Kill or be killed with 40% off!
There was a point during the UK Black Friday when it didn’t even look like shopping anymore. Rather, it resembled a weird form of looting, where you did pay for items – but with a bloodstained credit card, tapping out your PIN with your nose because your fingers had been broken during a bloody and terrible battle for Dr Dre Beats headphones in the electronic goods aisle. A retail Hunger Games, complete with growling voiceover: “Kill or be killed with 40% off!”
Above all, it was weirdly shaming. I don’t want to see British people sprawling across floors, getting their heads trodden on, because some rude, pushy pillock fancies a snazzy new food processor. I don’t want to hear about them making till staff cry. Sometimes there’s footage from troubled countries of crowds of people desperately fighting to get to the front after an airdrop of food and provisions – for obvious reasons, they could be forgiven their temporary lack of cool.
By contrast, Black Friday was a national embarrassment, akin to a retail feeding frenzy, with shops and customers surreally competing to be the biggest, baddest piranhas in the tank.
In future, any chains guilty of irresponsibly whipping up such frenzies should be forced to contribute to police costs.
As for those customers who simply don’t feel they could ever be trusted to control their apparently uncontrollable desire for (ahem) coffee makers in public shopping situations, then perhaps it’s time for them to remain online and unseen.
Most items were purchased on credit cards so the bargains are not bargains unless you clear your credit card bill at the end of the month. Otherwise, a stressful and expensive Black Friday Shopping 2014.