Some things from American culture can be imported by other countries without any trouble—fast food, for example. Other things are more problematic, like Halloween. But Black Friday is just plain stupid outside of the USA. Still, I can’t blame New Zealand retailers for trying.
Black Friday is, of course, the day after Thanksgiving in the USA, which pretty much means that by definition it has no significance outside the USA. It’s also supposedly the day on which American retailers “enter black ink”, that is, start making a profit. Personally, I think that if that’s really true, one must wonder about the viability of retail as a valid business model. But, I digress.
New Zealand has a holiday shopping season, of course, but there’s nothing between Labour Day (end of October) and Christmas. So, when, precisely, should the NZ holiday shopping season start? Is Labour Weekend too early? If so, what can retailers latch onto to mark the start of their holiday promotions?
So, I have a lot of sympathy for New Zealand retailers, and I accept their need to try and generate excitement so that people will spend over the holiday season. But I’m just not sure that appropriating another country’s marketing, divorced from context, is such a great idea. Why can’t we have a New Zealand event to start the season? How hard can that be? Wait—I’ve done politics in New Zealand, so I know how nearly impossible that task is. Never mind.
The image up top is from an email I received this morning from a retailer that routinely sends me two or three emails each and every day promoting supposedly amazing deals on their website. I never buy. The image below is from a wine marketer that sends me an email every single day, weekends inlcuded. I never buy from them, either, told them never to phone me again, and just haven’t gotten around to unsubscribing from their email list—but, then, if I had, I’d have no image to share, so there’s that.
My point here is that the whole “Black Friday” thing has nothing to do with New Zealand and it feels forced (especially when some retailers have been trying it on for weeks already). Yet I also sympathise with NZ retailers not having a real start to their sales season. But—and it’s bad form to raise a new point at the very end of a post, but when have I ever cared about that?—why do we even need to be so obsessed with consumption?
I spent today with family. It matters far more to me than I can say, certainly far more than anything I could ever buy at any retailer’s sale, “Black Friday” or no.