Black Friday or Blatant Fraud?

By Ciéra Cree – So, it seems it’s made its way around again – Black Friday. Shops slice their prices to smithereens in order to offer us irresistible deals, and strong doses…

By Ciéra Cree

Black Friday’ 2020 will be taking place on Friday 27th November. Due to lockdown it will be predominantly online.

So, it seems it’s made its way around again – Black Friday. Shops slice their prices to smithereens in order to offer us irresistible deals, and strong doses of satisfaction, just in time for the holiday season. Festive tunes and sparkling lights glimmer in the background while we look through the shelves among our favourite stores, searching for the perfect items for both ourselves and the people in our lives. We leave with bags full of things and purses much emptier than they were upon our morning departure, but it’s alright because what we bought was for a bargain price, right? We may have left with way more items than we intended to buy but it’s justifiable when you’re saving so much money, isn’t it? Think again.

Black Friday is heavily anticipated by people across the globe who are eager to get their hands on the best that they can find for the best possible prices. We see something is a good deal and missing out is, frankly, not an option. It’s instinctual, but what’s scarier is the fact that people are so blinded by the promise of savings that they often don’t stop to think about what, or why, they are consuming in the first place. We’re in an almost zombified state, mindlessly picking up products, since that’s what the day is all about – consumption. The fact that we have a dedicated day of appeal towards mass consumption, when there are people whom we walk past on the streets after our shameless shopping sprees sleeping rough and needing shelter is, in the bluntest of terms, rather disgusting.

Shops aren’t here to operate in your best interest and supply you with something amazing. Why would they be? Why would they throw their profits and priorities down the drain to give us what we want? It’s all an illusion, a facade, and we fall for it time and time again.

Do you ever take a moment to acknowledge that when you enter shops on Black Friday, the products you see are often different from what’s usually there? Or that there are magically way more items present? This isn’t the shops providing you with new things at terrifically tiny sums out of nowhere, but instead, it’s a display of all of the items from the back of the storage that normally don’t sell. As it’s Black Friday, and people are in a scatter grabbing gifts, they know that this is the time to shift these away from their catalogue. And what about the products that suddenly aren’t there anymore when they used to be? This doesn’t always mean that they were popular and sold out before you got there. If the store owners wish not to have them incorporated among any of this, they simply take them off the floor and replace them with what they want to get rid of until the period ends. And the prices, these bargains we so wholeheartedly adore, fall into this manipulation too.

Let me introduce you to the art of price-fixing. This is where retailers increase the price of items in their inventory before, for instance, Black Friday so then once the price is cut, it provides the public with the illusion of a good deal. Something could normally have a shelf value of £5, be placed up to £10 in the days before the event, and become halved back down to £5 when the day emerges. We see this product at half price and believe that we obtain more than what we paid for, whereas in fact, we’re succumbing to something false – a tactical industry move.

So, what should we do to combat this? How can we possibly avoid falling victim to these schemes? I’m not here to tell you to miserably stay indoors and never shop again, but I do feel that we can afford to be a bit more mindful. Before you go shopping perhaps make a list of who you intend to buy for and what you are thinking of buying, or if you’re shopping for yourself, have a look around the stores prior to the event and take note of what sparks interest and the price it is displayed as. Regardless of the fact that this day is apparently all about grabbing a bargain, there’s no reason to not stick to a budget. Leave your debit card at home and only go out with the amount of cash you can comfortably spend. And if you don’t need anything, don’t feel the pressure to participate because others are. Shopping nowadays has become a social event and pastime, especially for young people, but just because you are out with friends doesn’t mean you have to buy something.

I hope that this article has highlighted for you some of the trickery that can be found underneath Black Friday’s surface, and that it may encourage you to think before reaching into your pocket.

Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash


The ‘Reverse’ Advent Calendar

By Ciéra Cree – Christmas is fast approaching, and as we all know, this can only mean one thing – shopping, shopping, shopping. Perhaps some of you have already been shopping in preparation for the big day – it’s not uncommon…

By Ciéra Cree

Christmas is fast approaching, and as we all know, that can only mean one thing – shopping, shopping, shopping. Perhaps some of you have already been shopping in preparation for the big day – it’s not uncommon. Presents prettily piled under a Christmas tree laced with lovely lights, this is for sure a festive sight. But I’m here today to introduce you to a ‘new’ idea which might help you bring the idea of ‘the season of giving’ closer into your heart. Introducing: ‘The Reverse Advent Calendar’.

For those who are unaware, an advent calendar is a tray of festive chocolate shapes hidden behind little doors. There are twenty-four or twenty-five of these doors and for each day of December, you get to open one and see what’s behind it.

The idea of ‘The Reverse Advent Calendar’ could be applied to those twenty-five or twenty-four doors, the “twelve days of Christmas” or in whichever way best suits you. It’s a simple and easy thing to do either by yourself or with a group of friends or flatmates.

You take a box and for each day of December you put in an item(s) to donate to charity – and that’s it. At first, it may not seem like much, but it builds up! Going to a charity shop or donation bin around Christmas Eve or New Year with a box full of things to give away feels so refreshing, and doing this is also a great way to help declutter your life a bit before 2020.

For us here at Anglia Ruskin there’s a British Heart Foundation donation bin around the corner of Peter Taylor House (and a few others around in different places too!) which not only accepts clothing, as many donation points exclusively do, but also brick-a-brack and other items from books to scarves and old shoes. The donation point here will not accept blankets, carpets, cushions, glass, metal, pillows, quilts, rags, rugs or videos. But imagine the impact we could make as a university if each of us even just found one thing to pass on! Giving back this Christmas is for sure a great way to warm the hearts of those in need.

There are plenty of beautiful things about the holiday season to be grateful for, and numerous don’t come in the form of a physical item. Spending time with people you care about, the memories you make with those people, and the atmosphere of the period itself carries something indescribable for many, but to some this time of year is their hardest.

To those reading this I ask you to take a moment to reflect on all the things and people in your life that you have to be grateful for. Hold them close and appreciate them as not everyone is as fortunate.

How to Manage the Impending Overload of Christmas

By Laura Vogel – Once again, Christmas has come upon us almost like magic, and many of us feel unprepared already despite knowing of its return every 12 months…

By Laura Vogel

Once again, Christmas has come upon us almost like magic, and many of us feel unprepared already despite knowing of its return every 12 months. Christmas jingle, Christmas smells, Christmas lights – Christmas overload! To a lot of people this season of joy, spells stress better than anything else. Buying presents last minute, having assignments being due, being not ready to see the entire family again – trust me we all have been there!

What we need is a strategic, some kind of “master plan” to face the holiday of holidays. For once, it might help to step up our game. Let’s try to start with the shopping already- make a list, check it twice and of you go. Just a note on the side, don’t go into the city on the weekend if you are not a fan of busy shopping centres and the final present rush. If going shopping under the week still sounds like too much stress, just start ordering on various websites that have everything anyway. No need of getting out of bed and you are still able to buy all the presents you need.

Something that screams stress even louder then presents that are not been bought yet, are assignments that are about to be due. If you turn it in date is either before Christmas Day or in the New Year, it was still a high tendency of ruining your Christmas spirit as you panic about meeting deadlines. What are our lecturers thinking? Did they ever hear of the word timing? The only chance that you have in battling this, is that you are stopping your Netflix 6 season TV show which you are currently watching, physically getting out of the bed and moving your tired body to the library or your desk. Getting caught up in the leisure of Christmas is great but don’t slip behind on your work.

And finally the big issue – family. It might worry you to see all these people again. Having to laugh at the cheesy jokes from this far related uncle of yours, making small talk with relatives you haven’t seen since last Christmas and pretending to be happy about the ugliest pair of socks you ever seen may increase your stress barometer. But hey, didn’t we all learn to compensate?! Grab the box of Christmas cookies and the red wine, find some inner courage and then maybe the small talk won’t be as stiff anymore and rather funny family anecdotes will bring a smile to everyone’s face. The corny jokes might end up being so bad that they actually become funny and well socks are just socks. Your shoes will very well hide them.

Don’t pressure yourself to have the perfect, blissful Christmas – it doesn’t exist. But a level of comfort will come eventually without you pushing it. Another way to stress out a little less is actually giving in to the Christmas cheer. Embrace it! Go look at the lights, fetch some hot chocolate, enjoy a night watching “Love Actually“, listen to Mariah Carey on full volume. Just do whatever brings cheer to you!

When all the gifts got opened, the roast has been burnt but devoured and all the candles burned down; that it is already over and so is the stress. And all that is left is a memory of another Christmas and hopefully some cookies in the jar! It’s all about finding a balance of productivity, inner calm and making the most of a small break from work.