So last week I clicked on an advert for fancy shelves I’d been ogling for a while on my Instagram feed. My collection of books is steadily increasingly (I blame the second-hand shops on Botanic for my most recent haul) and I want to be able to store them effectively. ‘Oooh,’ says I to myself. ‘A deal! How serendipitous.’ Except it wasn’t. While the initial ad lured me in with 50% in bold font, most shelves I looked at had a mere 20% discount and were still so over-priced that I wouldn’t even entertain buying them. The books will remain in teetering piles on the floor then.
It will be the same in the shops and I guarantee you that if you’re in the town today you will see promotional material displayed willy-nilly, but on closer inspection will find that many items are hardly reduced at all.
And if they ARE discounted, you need to consider whether they are still worth buying. ‘Which?’ magazine award ‘don’t buy labels’ to items which they deem duds, and a waste of money, whether they are heavily discounted but are in fact duds or not. Black Friday Deals rely on the assumption that consumers will buy on impulse, and perhaps haven’t done their research and think that one TV or fridge freezer is as good as the next.
According to Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, ‘if you weren’t going to buy it, but do it only because it’s half price, then you’ve wasted 100% of your money.’ Now that’s hardly rocket science, yet I can see how it happens when the furore and panic that surrounds Black Friday deals mounts and so people panic shop, for fear of missing out. Don’t give in to corporate greed and allow them to suck you in!
I’ve been thinking more and more about ‘conscious gifting’, taking the time to ask friends and family what they really want. I’ve collected items for umpteen school fairs and ballot prizes over the years, so I’ve see first-hand the unwanted and unopened gift packs of toiletries that people have donated. Undoubtedly, this is the sort of generic item that will be snapped up by folk trying to get ahead with their Christmas shopping on Black Friday. A colleague who moved house recently found a huge box in the roof space, which was crammed with bath products, all still in their packaging. All that money for a quick ‘thank you very much’ before it’s fired into a cupboard to add to our never-ending clutter.
If ever there was a time, then surely it’s now, to ask the people we buy for what they’d really like. Maybe it’s their favourite lip-stick (Mac in ‘Fast Play’ if you’re asking), or fancy coffee, or maybe it’s new socks. SOCKS? I hear you say, has SWB become so Grinch-like and boring that she’s advocating we all buy each other SOCKS? Hear me out on this though. Socks are useful but I’ve never said to myself, ‘I’m away out here to treat myself to a nice pair of feet warmers.’ I like to have toasty trotters so I’m always happy to receive a few pairs. And it’s actually become so cliché to give socks as gifts that it doesn’t happen as much anymore, making recipients of socks even more grateful.
My message is this- stop buying stuff you don’t need, or if it’s a gift, something that wouldn’t want yourself. If it’s not a ‘hell yes!’ then it shouldn’t be coming home with you. Support the small businesses where you can, our growers and grafters, our potters and painters and those who have turned their passion into livelihoods. Instead of investing our hard-earned cash into something bland and generic, let’s support the real heroes of the high street, those whose sole purpose isn’t greed but a desire to see the world in a more imaginative, colourful way.