Who Needs Black Friday?

Americans are a funny sort. They are avid consumers, taught from a young age that the ability to buy gives you power. The culmination of the free-market frenzy happens during the holiday season, when the pressure is on, to make sure not to disappoint with your gifts and have something for everybody.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving – this year on 23 Nov. – stores all over America stayed open late into the evening to tempt buyers with deals and discounts to get they’re Christmas shoppers blood flowing – which has resulted in injuries and even deaths by trampling or suffocation.

We’re talking about World-Cup-style consumerism.

Does anybody really need this? Isn’t the desire to please family and friends, the wish to be of good cheer, generous and thoughtful enough to get us to the stores?

Even in Austria, there are rumours Amazon.de sent out discount offers for Black Friday, a concept none of them understood. “How am I supposed to know what I want to get? It’s not even December yet?” one asked.

So, what was the purpose of this “early-bird” sale?  The excitement of night shopping? Begin earlier, spend less? While there are no formal studies at hand, instincts suggest, the earlier you begin, the longer the stress of Christmas shopping engulfs your universe.

This would never work in Vienna. Here, the sales come after Christmas, when the frenzy has subsided. And instead of hard-sell  incentives to concentrate shopping to a single deal-laden day, the shopkeepers and the city respond accordingly.

The week before Christmas, as crowds flock to Mariahilferstrasse for last-minute gift-gathering, the street traffic is cut off, as rushed pedestrian shopper have long since stopped looking both ways when dashing from Gerngross to Forever 21.

Better to respond to the shoppers’ behaviour than “black”-mail them into one Friday’s deal of a lifetime.


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