UK retailers have jumped on the American bandwagon to offer ‘Black Friday’ discounts. Is this just a cynical way to make us spend more money before Christmas, or is any deal a good deal?
Black Friday follows Thanksgiving in the US. It’s traditionally a day of deep discounts, with customers queuing for hours outside stores. Imagine January Sales done Uncle Sam style.
Retailers in the UK, like Amazon, Comet and Curry’s, have started offering their own Black Friday discounts, but do we need another US holiday-cum-shopping event? Deputy tech editor Andy Vandervell and digital producer Rory Boland go head to head.
Against Black Friday in the UK
Andy Vandervell: There are numerous reasons why I dislike Black Friday. First, and most obvious, it has nothing to do with the UK. It’s a US phenomenon linked to Thanksgiving, a holiday we don’t celebrate. Therefore, the idea of having Black Friday deals in the UK is purely an attempt to cash-in on the high-profile shenanigans of our cousins across the deep blue sea.
And it’s not something to be made light of. In 2008 a Walmart employee was trampled on and died as eager shoppers rushed to grab the best deals, and there’s no shortage of other examples of misfortune befalling shoppers due to overcrowding.
Luckily Black Friday in the UK is tame by comparison – at present it’s limited almost exclusively to online retailers, like Amazon. We reserve our real day of madness for Boxing Day.
And that’s the other most salient point – 90% of the Black Friday deals I’ve seen are rubbish. Amazon does better than most, but for every genuine bargain there’s 10 half-baked (sometimes re-baked) ‘deals’ that can be safely ignored.
Comet’s ‘five day frenzy’, meanwhile, seems like anything but. Of the deals I’ve checked throughout the week, few have proven to be noteworthy – many were more expensive or only slightly less than other retailers’ standard prices.
Black Friday is nothing but cynical social engineering. An attempt to convince people that deals are on, when the reality is trivial and mostly pointless.
For Black Friday in the UK
Rory Boland: Who doesn’t like a deal? Apart from Roman Abramovich, the Sultan of Brunei, and Mr Andy Vandervell. Ultimately that’s all Black Friday is about.
Forget complaints about more American imports or vague threats of a US cultural invasion – no one is asking us to dress up as pilgrims, stuff cornbread down our throats and watch men in pads trying to learn rugby. Black Friday is just one big sale.
Anyone familiar with the US version of the event can’t fail to envy the discounts offered. Shoppers are regularly treated to 80% or 90% off some headline products.
Call me a consumerist and capitalist running dog, but if I lived in the US and Best Buy knocked a 42 inch HDTV down from $800 to $200 – which they are – I’d be camped out outside Best Buy in my slippers. HP all-in-one printer for $19? Yes please.
The real problem in the UK is that we’re copying the tradition, but we can’t quite pull it off. While US shoppers get smart phones for a penny, we have to put up with 31% off Geordie Shore DVDs, Famous Five book sets and discount dog food mix.
Nonetheless, there are still loads of great deals around, like a six-month Lovefilm subscription down from £59.94 to £17.50. And it’s not even Black Friday yet, when all the crazy ‘Nintendo Wii for £20’ deals start. Happy Thanksgiving!
So whose argument will you back – Andy’s or Rory’s? Is bringing Black Friday to the UK just a cynical excuse to take our money, or is it full of hefty discounts we can take advantage of?