How to beat 'Black Friday' - both here and in the US

 

This Friday is Black Friday in the States, the day after Thanksgiving, which marks the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season with massive discounts to lure shoppers. Most years it turns nasty, though. In 2011 it was marred by shootings and pepper-sprayings (one started over a tussle for a waffle iron) as bargain-hunters stampeded into stores across America.

In 2008, one person died after a stampede at a New York Walmart. But this didn't stop 152 million Americans hitting the shops last year and spending nearly $50bn.

In Britain "Black Friday" is the name given by police and ambulance workers to the last Friday before Christmas when office parties erupt and emergency workers spend the night scooping people off pavements.

Perhaps a museum in Minnesota has a better idea of how to spend both days? The Minnesota History Center is offering free admission on Black Friday to encourage shoppers to opt instead for a dose of culture.

Britain's cultural attractions should take note. Just imagine crowds enjoying the Bronze exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts instead of cramming into Oxford Street. Or how about catching Hansel and Gretel at the National Theatre instead of sinking pints of lager at the office party while snogging a colleague you really shouldn't be.

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