November 24, 2021
-by Frank Macdonald
Black Friday is upon us, meaning it will be open season on consumers.
There isn’t a day when the marketplace isn’t out there hustling its wares, which is everything from automobiles to stock options to…well, everything. That’s its day-to-day job, to lull consumers into believing that a day off is best spent spending time and money along with the rest of the mob at the mall.
The consumer, of course, has every right to decide that a day off, whether it be a weekend or a holiday, belongs to him, and he can just stay home and mow his frost-covered lawn.
But sometimes exercising such a right is downright selfish.
There are corporate profit margins to be met, Christmas dividends to be disbursed, all of which depends on consumer choice: whether we opt to be lay-arounds sitting on our not-yet-maxed-out charge cards, or whether we take up the challenge and become economic patriots.
To help us decide what kind of consumers we are, the advertising industry has invented Black Friday! (And it will continue to be Black Friday from Black Friday all the way to Christmas Eve.)
So it’s off to the mall we go.
Black Friday heralds in shopping’s Holy Days of Obligation, a time to lay your heart and soul and whole bank account at the altar of our favourite corporate temple.
Year-end spending habits by consumers can decide the fate of many businesses, so a consumer’s duty is to soothe corporate mental health anxiety. Consumers’ month-long Black Friday spending can make all the difference between CEOs spending the rest of the winter is sunny southern climes, or spending it in bankruptcy. To avert the latter, household corporate names set as their goal the seduction of the consumer.
It is not an easy seduction to escape. Not at the mall and not at home.
Windows closed, doors locked, one might think he is going to escape the Black Friday shakedown with much of his finances still intact. Ah, but it is here in one’s own house that home invasions happen. Gathering like politicians at a summit, this year’s hot gadgets dance seductively across whatever screens your household opens up to the advertising industry: the big screen tv, the 18" laptop, the tablet, your phone…
At any given time of any given day or night, some multinational corporation is trying to give away a product that cost it $1.62 plus import duties imported from Slave-Labour-Land. To move the product, a corporate outlet offers a massively slashed price of only $299.99. That price itself has been slashed all the way down from last week’s price of $259.99.
While consumers stroll or scroll through brick and mortar or digital malls, many of the lords of capitalism lust after the contents of our wallets. For many of the world’s wealthiest, the greatest waste of money on the planet is when it is in someone else’s pocket, so Amazon et al’s noble duty is to correct this economic quirk.
Meanwhile, the consumer wades through all this “batteries not included” stuff with a gift list that seems longer than a roll of toilet paper, whispering to his wife that they should drop a few friends. “Look here. A tablet for Joey? Who’s Joey? One of your Facebook friends?” To which she replies, “Joey is your third born.”
The consumer decides to leave Joey on the list, but if the couple continues to shop all the way down to the great-great-grand-aunt who is currently in palliative care, this consumer family could single-handedly finance Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Virgin’s Richard Branson or Telsa’s Elon Musk in their space race, since each of these bored-silly billionaires are always looking for a new toy to amuse their eternal childhood and confuse their accountants.
Soon one of them, followed by all of them, will be advertising a new Black Friday Special, that for the purchase of an electric car your name goes into a drum that, if drawn, will win you a flight into outer space. The Billionaires’ new toy-du-jour being to own one’s own rocket ship.
Black Friday also heralds the season when the Save-the-Planet crowd begins crowding your P.O. Box, reminding us of our good fortune in being us. The Do-Gooder organizations are no gentler in nudging us for our spare change by subjecting consumers to every kind of guilt, forcing us to choose between Save the Whales or Save Wal-Mart.
There is a single antidote to staying sane and solvent during Black Friday’s madness, and that’s to explore the downtown stores of Inverness County, local businesses it would be wonderful see still in business this time next Black Friday.