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Why I won't be heading out to shops to take part in this feast of greed and vulgarity

By Frances Burscough

Published 11/11/2015

When Asda introduced Black Friday to our shores three years ago, they created a retailing giant monster that quickly went out of control and brought havoc to our high streets.

The concept of a one-day-only sale had been tried and tested in the UK before by individual stores and was nothing new.

But it had never been observed en masse on one day before, until the American corporation Walmart acquired Asda and changed our shopping habits forever.

So where did it all begin?

In America they've had Black Friday for years. The feast of Thanksgiving is traditionally observed on the last Thursday of November and the day after, which is also a public holiday in the States, became a bit like our Boxing Day, when stores across the country dropped their prices in the hope of cashing in on some of that good old-fashioned bonhomie.

Everyone (apart from shop workers that is) is off work...everyone's just been paid...Christmas is just around the corner...so let's spend, spend, spend! And they do, like mammon-crazed maniacs, handing over billions upon billions of dollars in one monumental 24-hour trolley dash.

So they tested their model of mayhem in selected UK Asda stores in 2013, including Belfast and Bangor. Staff were bedecked in black costumes, they blew up thousands of black balloons and declared deals of up to 70% off key luxury items such as wide screen TVs, laptops and games consoles.

The paying public responded to the hype by queueing up around the block with their life savings, hoping for the best bargains available. Police and security guards were deployed and the chaos duly hit the news headlines across the UK.

Black Friday had arrived here, once and for all.

By 2014, everyone from Tesco to Spar was in on the act, inundating us with adverts for days in advance and we, the consumers, all followed in droves.

The scenes on the news spoke for themselves, with people actually fighting tooth and nail to grab their just rewards.

Little old ladies got punched. People were hospitalised and the country pointed the finger of blame in one direction.

Oh Asda, what have you done?

So this year, fearing so much negative publicity might begin to outweigh the benefits of their one day profit spike, they decided to wash their hands of the consequences and declared an end to Black Friday in the UK.

Wham bam, thank you ma'am. Now you all can fight among yourselves.

Whether any other stores choose to join them on the moral high ground and abstain remains to be seen, although it seems unlikely.

Especially now that Cyber Monday - the Monday following Black Friday when people go mad buying bargains online - also seems to be catching on here too.

Personally, this whole thing appals me. What kind of society are we turning in to, where common decency goes by the wayside the moment we smell a bargain?

I, for one, stay home on Black Friday because I just don't want to be part of this orchestrated festival of greed and vulgarity. Welcome to the Seventh Circle of Hell.

All I can say is that it's a shame the feast of Thanksgiving never caught on in the same way.

Belfast Telegraph

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