December 24, 2013 | By: Laurie Campbell

Boxing Day or boxing match? The evolving horror of seasonal sales.

Assaults. Shootings. Arrests. Just another big seasonal sale happening at Brawl-Mart and the like as shoppers scramble to take advantage of low, low prices on a lot of goods they can probably do without while putting off the credit counselling they probably need. Indeed, the mayhem in North America that surrounded the so-called Black Friday this autumn was something to behold. Untold millions went to extremes through racking up credit card debt and cash outlays in hopes of saving a little money. With Christmas now upon us, we ought to brace for Boxing Day sales that involve actual boxing matches, if not riot squads.

Is all this acquisitive business worth it? It certainly is not. Indeed, I'm thinking a whole lot of people out there may be in desperate need of credit counselling services and financial coaching, if for no other reason than that through curtailed spending, many will avoid shopping excursions that could end with ambulances arriving on the scene. I know that sounds absurd. But look where consumerism is taking people these days.

Consider the Target customer who took a bullet in the leg on Black Friday during a tug-of-war with another guy over a big-screen TV. Then there was the scrap over goods in a Wal-Mart parking lot that ended when one guy knifed another so viciously that he split bone. Or how about the bomb threat at another big-box store. The whole joint was evacuated perhaps because the phony bomber wanted a clear path to a toaster oven. The shocking stories go on and on - shopping melees and stampedes with SWAT teams called in and hospital emergency rooms filling up.  It’s ridiculous. One online comment compared Black Friday to Spain’s Running of the Bulls — “but replaced with badly dressed people”.

Most of the shopping horrors happened in the United States, since Black Friday is only now gaining a footing in other nations such as Canada and Britain. Still, reports trickled in of frightful or at least disconcerting shopping behaviour on these fronts, too. I have to say that as a Canadian I wish Black Friday would disappear into a big black hole, never to return. Sure, I agree with its financial premise of “staying in the black” through savings on the purchase of consumer goods. But the whole mass psychology that now surrounds the event is most unhealthy. We all might ask ourselves: what price do we put on living safe, decent lives in the communities that we inhabit?

I think that consumerism in western societies is getting to be just too much and credit counselling is in order to improve financial education. I mean, consider what happened in the footsteps of Black Friday. Right on its heels came “Cyber Monday” and “Cyber Week” wherein all kinds of deals were to be had through annual online sales events. Well, at least in the digital realm nobody limped away with a broken leg.

Given the season, I come back to Boxing Day and Boxing Week sales. Frankly, I’ve never put much stock in these events. I suppose there’s money to be saved in their pursuit. But these days there are so many “Christmas” sales out there to begin with that scrambling to save a couple of bucks within 24 hours of opening all our Christmas presents seems like overkill to me. I know it sounds hackneyed, but perhaps it’s time to once again consider the true meaning of Christmas, and the real opportunities it presents for joy.

For all the pleasure that consumer goods bring, there is much more gratification to be had at Christmas time in non-material pursuits. Love. Laughter. Good food. Warm company. What price these items?

Merry Christmas everyone. Stay safe.


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