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Black Friday, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

by:
Laurie Campbell

Permit me to shine some light on why I hate Black Friday. I have on hand a clipping of a Toronto Star article I saved from last year at about this time. In keeping with my view, it comes with the headline: “The case against Black Friday.”

Right off the bat, the article states that rather than setting aside a Friday each autumn that celebrates “rampant, stupid, sometimes even lethal consumerism,” perhaps we should instead be setting aside “a day of remembrance for all the people in Canada, and for that matter the United States, who live in poverty and who will go without this holiday season.”

I say hear, hear to that, particularly in light of statistics that show about 1.3 million Canadian kids are right now living in poverty.

Given the regular cycle of horror stories surrounding Black Friday, I have to wonder where western society is headed.

Given the regular cycle of horror stories surrounding Black Friday spending frenzies, I have to wonder where western society is headed. Like the U.S., from which we imported Black Friday, Canada has become not just a country of big spenders, we are a nation of obsessive spenders, now owing almost $1.6 trillion in personal debt, and that’s excluding mortgage debt.

This figure amounts to roughly $21,000 per person, with Canadian households owing nearly $1.65 for every dollar of disposable income. Clearly, the growing consumer debt reflects a laissez-faire attitude to borrowing and spending that is in need of redress perhaps through the kind of financial literacy and credit counselling programs we offer at my agency, Credit Canada.

Employees have been trampled to death by crowds, and in another stampede, rabid shoppers walked over a dying man.

Let’s recap a few awful Black Friday incidents as reported by The Daily Dot.

“The most obvious case against Black Friday is that it brings out the worst in human behaviour, a Lord of the Flies-like scenario in which consumers are driven to tear each other apart for a good deal. That might seem like hyperbole, but only barely. In previous years, retail employees have been trampled to death by Black Friday crowds, and in another stampede, rabid shoppers walked right over a dying man. In a Toys ‘R’ Us incident, two people were shot and killed, and a Best Buy worker got stabbed during an altercation with a customer,” The Daily Dot says.

But there’s more.

“Should you survive the crowds, you can still be pepper sprayed, robbed, or beaten by cops,” says The Daily Dot.

“Should you survive the crowds, you can still be pepper sprayed, robbed, or beaten by cops ... Arizona police body-slammed a grandfather who had tucked a video game under his waistband to carry his grandson above the crowd. The man laid in his own blood for 10 minutes as cops handcuffed him and charged him for shoplifting and resisting arrest,” The Daily Dot adds.

So go a few examples of Black Friday chaos in the U.S. Similar – though less violent – incidents are reported in Canada each year, too. Doubtless as time goes on they will only escalate. Still, I take encouragement from many fellow Ontarians who share my views about Black Friday. Perhaps if enough of us raise our voices against this black mark on the marketplace, retailers will decline to participate in the event. I’m not counting on that happening anytime soon, though.

I suppose folks will continue to flock to it until their wallets – not to mention their bodies – are dealt too many blows.

Black Friday is highly promoted and I suppose folks will continue to flock to it until their wallets – not to mention their bodies – are dealt too many blows, with the critically wounded wising up through tempered spending and, as I say, some credit counselling.

In closing, let me count some of the ways in which other Ontarians hate Black Friday. Here are a few quotes picked up from the aforementioned Toronto Star article. Give them a peek, then maybe tell me your thoughts about the matter.

“It’s appalling to see otherwise normal, sane people behaving like a riotous mob to get their hands on that “must-have” holiday gift. I like a deal as much as the next guy, but I won’t risk getting trampled to save a few dollars on a big-screen television.” – Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

“The news from around the world of shoppers stampeding to buy stuff on Black Friday reminds me of Rome, especially its decadence and thoughts of invincibility. The only difference is that the arrogance and stupidity is on a global scale.” – Pearl Silver, Toronto

“I have been amazed at the rampant consumerism that seems to be getting worse by the year. Why did we feel a need to borrow the U.S. phenomenon called Black Friday and the newer add on of Cyber Monday?” – Cam Robinson, Toronto
 
“I am disappointed to see our country adopt the U.S. Black Friday promotions. Boxing Day sales are common in Canada. I see no reason to attend or invent any others.
I associate black with macabre events or death.” – John Bruce, Niagara Falls

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