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Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday participation in the UK: What's the problem?

[Short link to this article if you need it - http://goo.gl/mR41j2 - or retweet me]

I've seen a few posts on social media today along these lines:
The UK reference in that wikipedia entry has since been removed at the time of writing.

I don't get why people are so upset about it. While the Black Friday sales happen to be next to the US "Thanksgiving" it is on a different day, and it is a different event. No-one's expecting British people to celebrate Thanksgiving as some sort of bizarre prerequisite ritual to a day of sales. The facts are:

  1. UK retailers (albeit initially lead by the US ones) ARE participating in an event they are referring to as "Black Friday" coincident with the US one.
  2. People in the UK are watching out for special deals as a result of the Black Friday promotions.
Those two things seem to suggest to me that the UK is participating in Black Friday, and I can't understand people who are objecting other than a blatant refusal to have anything to do with a tradition that started in America, and to object to it is bordering seeming bigoted. Would you really miss out on the chance to buy something you've been considering for months, or years, at a discount because it happened to be on special offer on a day they're referring to as "Black Friday"? I wouldn't force anyone to participate in any traditional celebrations whether they consider them "celebrated" in this country or not (and with many religions and other things not applying even to the whole of the UK even that concept is a bizarre attitude to have) but if something open to all allows people get a bargain then why not embrace it? You don't have to actively "celebrate" anything. On a technical level it might be better for retailers and their computer systems to stagger sales events across the globe, although with time zone differences that's not necessarily a massive issue anyway.

I've also seen the ridiculous suggestion that we change the name to disassociate ourselves from the American name. That seems equally absurd. We're in an era where we interact economically with people from all over the world in our day to day lives. What's the point in having our own special pet names for things that are already widely known and understood with a defined calendar date? It just seems pointless to me.

And to those who still believe it's just for America and the large corporations, Dean's shortbread in Scotland were offering a Black Friday special deal on their hampers today.

I wonder if attitudes will be different on Black Friday 2015? Maybe at least we'll calm down a bit, since the "traditional" British reserve appears to have got lost for some people this year - perhaps we should just leave it to be online only ;-)