In the past, the most common response by South Africans to the words Black Friday would have been a quizzical “black what?” Perhaps some of the better-heeled members of the population may have come across it, solely due to the energetic marketing activities of Amazon and other American on-line retailers, but for many the term would have evoked memories of either an Apartheid era protest or a racial slur. As a nation, we can happily discuss a rainbow of colours in a myriad of different contexts but the terms ‘black’ and ‘white’ remain mired in historical pain and mistrust and are generally best avoided.
It is perhaps a sign of national healing that the term Black Friday was so comprehensively embraced by both retailers and consumers this year, and what an embrace it was! Many chain stores extended their shopping hours and loaded their shelves with ‘one day only’ specials in anticipation of the arrival of crowds of shoppers, all eager to be parted from their hard-earned cash in return for price-slashed bargains. What they had not taken into account though, was that the predicted hordes of shoppers would need something in which to transport those bargains through the aisles!
I am, perhaps, one of the least savvy shoppers I know and consequently the Black Friday advertising had failed to take root in my consciousness. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at my local mall to complete my weekly grocery penance to find the parking garage full and frustrated motorists recklessly abandoning their cars in their hurry to secure a bargain! And then it got worse!
No shopping trolleys!
After waiting impatiently for what felt like hours (okay, really only a couple of minutes), I swiftly liberated a basket-trolley from a departing elderly couple (departing from the store, not life) and victoriously joined the throngs.
My euphoria was short-lived. The aisles resembled a war-zone. Those who were lucky enough to have secured the use of a trolley were using it as a battering ram to force their way through the throngs, while those without squeezed past carrying armfuls of bargains. Eggs smashed onto the tiled floor, adults hissed malevolently and children shrieked, while all the time the check-out queue slowly snaked its way around the store. An hour long wait, at least!
Enough! I swiftly relinquished my baskets, abandoned my task, liberated my car and headed home.
It was a black Friday, indeed!
My mood was black!
The empty spaces in my kitchen cupboard that should have been filled with brightly packaged groceries were gapingly empty and black!
My hope that the world was reverting to being a kinder, gentler place had turned to black!
Even the sky had turned black as it started to rain!
Next year, I’m going to shop on the day before Black Friday … the shops will be empty, trolleys will be plentiful and my equilibrium will remain intact.
I think I will name it Sanity Thursday!
What was your experience of Black Friday? Were your bargains worth the stress?