Every little helps

Did you enjoy Black Friday? Dave Woodhall certainly didn’t.

Apparently we’re coming to the end of Black Friday Weekend. It all started in America, but like everything else that comes from over there it seems we had to add our own twist and make it even worse, more mercenary and with a more aggressive edge. Just as trick or treat went from a night of innocent children asking for sweets to a week or more of demanding money with menaces, so we have a Black Friday Weekend – because one day just isn’t long enough.

I’m not all that fussed about it; I know what and when I’m going to buy between now and the 24th of December, and I think it’s nice of the shops to tell me when not to go anywhere near them. But there is one thing that, when I saw the TV news on Friday evening, brought out the Grumpy Old Man in me.

At an Asda in north London there’s mayhem with fights, wholesale savagery and general disorder, all taking place in front of TV cameras and a host of media. Why are the press there? Because they knew it was going to happen. The event was hyped up beyond all reason and the media promptly turned up to witness what they, and the store’s management, knew would be taking place.

It wasn’t just Asda, either. In Manchester police were called to eight Tesco stores, and Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy criticised what he called “totally predictable” trouble, adding “We just ask these stores to work with us to reduce the demands on policing.”

Which is the crux of the matter. The stores knew, as did big stores around the country, what would be the result of their unrelenting hype but they let it happen regardless and were totally unprepared for the ensuing mayhem – or maybe that was what they wanted anyway, because the publicity these events gained was the equivalent of millions of pounds of peak time advertising. What’s certain is that they didn’t liaise with police.

If what was filmed had taken place in a pub, the police would close it down. If it had been at a football ground the clubs responsible would have been fined and the home side forced to pay a fortune in future police costs. Instead, Tesco, Asda and the rest will be counting their takings and paying their directors another round of bonuses because nothing in their world is as sweet as the sound of tills ringing.

In an ideal world events would be different. The companies responsible would have had enough stock damaged or stolen to make them unwilling to repeat Black Friday. They’d be sued by anyone who was hurt in the disturbances. And the bad publicity they received would have outweighed the money they made. We can but hope.

2 thoughts on “Every little helps

  1. Black Friday, whatever you think of it, refers to a special sales date in the US when stores hopefully ‘went into the black’ after a post summer slump.
    Of course, it is a naked marketing ploy which, curiously, just sort of arrived here…shows you the power of the cartels.

    And as for bargains, well, the Reductions are all pegged to jumped up prices during the late summer (care for an August Xmas tree?) when no one will buy Yuletide gear anyway.

    We are fresh meat for the commercial wolves.

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