Tales from the Watercooler: Brace for incoming bargains

Black Friday will be followed by other equally dark US traditions

This week you will have been hearing about America’s Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving consumer maelstrom which makes our January sales seem like a Bring & Buy. Having been in Miami since Sunday, it’s clear the lead-up to Thanksgiving’s bargain-worshipping offspring takes place at the same breakneck pace in Florida as in the rest of the country. Most adverts, if not utilising this year’s Dancing With The Stars celebrities to flog adult diapers (making it possible to Paso Doble without passing water), have been trumpeting yesterday’s festival of spending.

Curiously, though, even the name “Black Friday” – signalling as it does the start of the unholy Christmas shopping assault – is oddly paradoxical; a prejorative name for an intrinsically American pastime. The origins of the name are somewhat murky, referring either to the dark parts of the human psyche accessed when we find six other pairs of hands reaching for that last George Foreman grill or the fact that it is the one period of the year when retailers aren’t in the red.

Either way, heed this warning: as we follow America in all things, expect a time when the Boxing Day sales start before you have even sat down to watch the Christmas Day Downton Abbey. Trust me: it’s coming.

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