How to end the hype of Black Friday by doing nothing

Pic: John Devlin
Pic: John Devlin

I really pushed the boat out on Black Friday. I bought a Kit Kat. Four fingers too.

I managed to restrain myself on Super Sunday, while Cyber Monday saw me pop out for a paper to read over a cuppa.

At a time when more people are falling through the cracks, stretching every penny as far as it will go, and choosing between heating and eating, it is obscene that we should be embracing manufactured, hyped-to-the-hilt events such as Black Friday.

Bringing this most American of retail events to the UK has added nothing to our lives.

The horrendous scenes of folk stampeding towards half price TVs only stopped because retailers realised they’d unleashed a monster they couldn’t control.

READ MORE Why your train services have been worse recently

READ MORE Deep fried Christmas dinner from Fife chippie

When people walked into a supermarket and ended up punching someone just to get that toaster knocked down by 60 per cent, then we’d crossed a line.

But the whiff of hype lingers.

Two years ago, I popped into Asda unaware it was Black Friday.

Outside, visible to all commuters passing by, were customers queued behind crush barriers.

The image, and the message was clear. Asda was packed, Black Friday was working its magic.

The reality was very, very different.

The cut price goods – crushingly dull stuff such as half price electric tooth brushes –were in a very small pen at the front of the store which was opened to folk in small numbers, hence the queue.

The rest of the store was empty. I counted four other customers as we shopped in perfect peace. The temptation to high five each other as we passed the fruit and veg counter was strong!

But Black Friday is all about hype. If you’re not spending, not joining in, then there must be something wrong with you.

There ARE some bargains to be had on the day, but the reality is you are being manipulated into thinking you are making whopping savings.

And Black Friday does nothing for our town centres or retailers. It has become an online frenzy, much to the glee of Amazon and all the big players.

Barclaycard processed 1087 transactions per second within one hour – a record high – but data from retail analysts Springboard said footfall at shops was down seven per cent, while shopping centres saw a drop of almost 10 per cent.

None of that does anything to help retailers protect wafer thin margins, or kickstart the festive sales which are critical to their survival.

So, what exactly is the point of Black Friday and its equally fabricated offspring, Cyber Monday?

If both ceased to exist, we would be no worse off, Christmas presents would still be bought, and bargains could still be found.

Manufacturing an event to exploit our desire to save a few quid and enjoy the thrill of a wee treat for ourselves is a cynical and hollow exercise.

And we have the power to stop it simply by doing nothing. Black Friday only works because we let it.