James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Black Friday appeals to the worst kind of greed

Was there not something deeply unattractive and worrying about the television scenes of people fighting with each other to lay hands on the best bargains during last week’s so-called ‘Black Friday?’ This is apparently an American-inspired effort to attract pre-Christmas shoppers by offering ludicrous discounts on a small number of items, in the hope that the gullible will then be persuaded to buy something else as well. It’s a ploy which appeals to the worst kind of greed and consumerism.

By contrast, The Federation of Small Businesses’ ‘shop locally’ campaign appeals to our best instincts. I am looking forward to supporting small businesses in Malmesbury and Royal Wootton Bassett tomorrow with them, and then during Small Business Saturday. These initiatives encourage us all to shop locally, and to keep our high streets vibrant. Its a modest and moderate ambition, and one which I hope that my readers will support.

There are two extremes associated with the forthcoming festivities, neither of which I like very much. Some people go massively over the top. They invest hundreds of pounds in extravagant presents which they cannot afford, rack up their credit cards, closing their minds to the consequences in the cold light of the New Year; and then focus their attention on eating and drinking so much that they pretty quickly lose track of what they are celebrating.

At the opposite end, there are mildly self-righteous or puritanical people who seem to take a pride in doing as little as possible – a string of tinsel here, a glass of dry sherry there, and a small donation to charity in lieu of Christmas cards. That seems to me to miss the mark as widely as the over-celebrators.

Christmas should be joyous; it should be about Christ whether or not we are regular churchgoers; it should be about families, parties, pleasant social events; and it should be about entering into the spirit of it all. But it should be about doing all that in a modest and sensible, mildly tipsy perhaps, but not blind drunk sort of way. “Enough of this world’s goods” as my clergyman father used to say “but not too much of them.”

Advent is one of the loveliest of times – anticipating what is to come and looking forward. It has some of the nicest carols and there is little to beat the child’s excitement as he or she opens yet another little window, keenly anticipating the fun that is to come. So let us neither be Scrooge nor Gargantua in the weeks to come. I’d rather have Advent than Black Friday.


About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree