A bad, black Friday for SA

2016-11-27 14:53
Black Friday is a global phenomenon. Picture: Getty Images

Black Friday is a global phenomenon. Picture: Getty Images

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WATCH: Black Friday chaos hits SA stores

2016-11-25 13:54

Watch as South Africans queued in masses, flooded stores as the doors opened and fought over bargained goods on #BlackFriday. WATCH

Black Friday is said to be a growing trend in South Africa. This shopping tradition must be the third worst thing we’ve adopted from the US – after obesity and Tbo Touch’s accent.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US and marks the start of Christmas spending, when big retailers offer bargains – up to 80% off everything from clothes to technology. I had no idea that we had a Black Friday until a few days ago. As it turns out, it began three years ago here.

In the US, where it started in the 1960s, it’s such a huge event that there is a countdown to the day. When I lived there briefly, it sounded exciting and I really wanted an iPad. That’s until a housemate told me that I’d have to leave in the dead of night (in autumn) to camp and sleep outside the doors of Best Buy, an electronics retailer, to stampede through the doors with the rest of the customers in the morning so we could trample each other to secure the best deals.

I appreciate a good sale. However, my lust for inexpensive things is equally matched by an aversion to shopping. Clothing and grocery shopping, especially.

My shopping malaise was ingrained in childhood. I learnt my buying habits from my mother, who was so utilitarian it sucked the pleasure out of shopping. The way my mother kept herself out of debt felt like punishment for liking nice things.

Her rule was if you find one thing, shoes, say, that you like, you have to visit each and every shop in the mall to find a similar pair that costs less.

In boarding school, when I’d ask her for a box of rusks, she found a bag double the size – only they were never Ouma rusks. They were not made of buttermilk and raisins, more like sawdust and cat pee. But they did last the entire term.

Like many women of the world, my mother was the chief decision maker when it came to household spending. This is why it’s said we drive the economy. Women, even frugal ones like me and my mother, are, globally, the biggest consumers.

Our “impact on the economy grows every year”, according to a 2015 Forbes article.

It is a fact of modern civilisation I partake in begrudgingly.

My mother scarred me for life, but she also cultivated in me a deep-seated mistrust for retailers that, thankfully, keeps me from taking part in shopping frenzies like Black Friday. I see shopping as a series of bad experiences of service.

One thing that really bugs me is that most fitting rooms are designed to obliterate your self-esteem.

I don’t understand the “you can only take seven items in with you” rule. Where is the research that proves that seven is the lucky number when it comes to stopping thieves? But the absolute worst dressing room experience, the one I know is designed to give you body issues, is the mirror with the power to magnify the pimple on your arse.

Then there are the “beauty assistants” who speak to you as if you are a leper if you’re older than 30.

When you reach a certain age, assistants at cosmetic counters speak to you like a family member has died.

“How old are you, if I may ask,” they say in hushed tones.

If you’re over 30 – God forbid over 35 – they reach out for every anti-ageing potion for every single patch of skin on your face, from your upper eyelids to your neck.

Don’t even talk to me about marketing and advertising that assumes everyone is a mother.

This year particularly, cashiers at big supermarket chains keep stuffing small toys into my shopping bags.

“No, I don’t have children,” I say, as I fish them out and give them back.

I’m not bothered by their marketing ploy; I’m offended at the assumption that every woman who shops is a mother.

Follow me on Twitter @joonji

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Read more on:    black friday  |  us

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