Black Friday: The Nightmare Before Christmas | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Black Friday: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Comment Writer Amelia Hiller analyses Black Friday and explores its implications on modern-day consumerism

With several high street retailers promising huge price slashes just in time for Christmas, the American tradition of Black Friday has now become an integral part of British retail.

Of course, everybody loves a bargain, but in my opinion the entire notion of Black Friday has become completely ridiculous. It’s no longer just a day (or even a weekend), but an entire week.

It has made me realise how superficial modern life is

I’ve been receiving emails ‘preparing’ me for today, emphasising the hype that will ensue as the clock strikes midnight. I’ve been constantly reminded of how I will be missing out if I don’t spend the entirety of my day searching for the most competitive offers on things that I could definitely live without. Such a relentless stream of emails from retailers trying to grab the attention of their customers has made me realise how superficial modern life is, and this feeling only increases when videos of frenzied shoppers fighting over reduced price televisions surface every Black Friday.

The extension of Black Friday from 24 hours to a 7-day extravaganza is further proof that the Christmas season is becoming increasingly commercialised, reflecting an overwhelmingly consumerist populace and continued corporate greed. This isn’t helped by the internet which provides a convenient platform for consumers to access the best Black Friday deals and therefore encourages them to overspend. To me, Christmas in the 21st century appears to be more about an obsessive hunt for bargains than anything else.

Perhaps I’m being slightly hypocritical. I spent this morning browsing the best online deals and probably spent more money than I should have done. Additionally, this evening I’ll be going to work at a high street store and will undoubtedly be pushing customers to invest in Black Friday deals. But in my opinion, the extent to which Black Friday has been hyped up is far too excessive.

The public become dazzled by Black Friday publicity and fail to research the true value of the deals they receive

Recent research even suggests that retailers fail to benefit that much, as such heavy discounting has a negative effect on their overall profit margin. Despite this, more high street stores seem to be participating in the frenzy this year. I even got an email from Propaganda Birmingham advertising December tickets at just £1. It’s a great deal, but just reiterates my point about Black Friday’s increasing ridiculousness. Does a club night really need to promote this?

Overall, I’m not completely against the notion of Black Friday.

Consumerism is here to stay, and the day gives shoppers the opportunity to find the best high street deals close to Christmas. As many have tight budgets at this point in the year, I’m sure Black Friday is welcomed by many and it certainly wouldn’t have become so popular if this wasn’t the case. However, my argument is that it has become far too deeply rooted in British retail tradition, so much so that the public become dazzled by Black Friday publicity and fail to research the true value of the deals they receive. In addition, retailers see competitors slashing prices heavily and feel they should do the same, disregarding a potentially negative impact on their overall profit margin.

I wonder: how worthwhile is Black Friday? Whatever the answer, Black Friday remains an extremely successful phenomenon within British retail despite its increasing superficiality.

This success isn’t likely to decrease for a very long time.


9th December 2017 at 9:00 am

Images from

John Henderson