Jayne Dawson: Get over yourselves, we’ve always loved a big bargain

DEC 24, 1962: Christmas shoppers laden with the fruits of battle queue in Briggate for the bus home.
DEC 24, 1962: Christmas shoppers laden with the fruits of battle queue in Briggate for the bus home.
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Since when did we all become quite so po-faced? Quite so smug and superior?

Personally, I enjoyed Black Friday. If we’re honest, I think most of us enjoyed Black Friday. We like a day with a name, we like an event, we love a bit of drama, and it had all of those.

The shenanigans in various stores in various locations around the country provided an exciting backdrop to an otherwise grey November day.

For a couple of hours, I was sitting in a hair salon (yes, being a natural blonde can be time consuming) and my hairdresser kept thoughtfully popping back to my chair to update me.

“It’s all kicking off, they’re bashing each other over the head with tellies,” she reported.

It made for a great morning. Between cups of tea and reports of fighting breaking out in lumps, I have rarely been happier. Those people making off with the tellies looked pretty chipper too.

So why all the hand-wringing? Why all the articles in the papers this weekend about how awful it all was.

You would think that a few people tussling over a few bargains is signalling the end of the world as we know it, and definitely Ruins Christmas.

“Is this really what Christmas has become?” they wailed. “Where has the true meaning gone?” they cried.

And it was the same all over social media. People tutting about how demeaning it was for other people to be grappling over electrical items.

“It’s just a television” they said, all aghast.

Well, I think there are a few things to say to in reply to those people.

First of all, get over yourselves. You know very well that Christmas has always been about excess.

Look at the picture on this page. Those are shoppers in Leeds, back in the days when, according to some, everything was better than it is now and that includes Christmas.

But it’s quite a queue, isn’t it? For people who know the true meaning of Christmas and weren’t as fixated on buying as we are now those people were making a determined effort to bag themselves a bargain.

And crowds and scuffles have always been part of the retail experience. Every New Year since time began cameras have watched bargain hunters crash through the doors of a department store and straight into the nearest display of discounted china.

The two-shoppers-tussling-over-a-tureen story is as traditional a tale as the one about the first New Year’s Day baby born in the maternity unit.

And really, I don’t see anything all that bad about it, especially since shopping is increasingly becoming a solitary, online occupation: two days ago was Cyber Monday when it is estimated that in the UK we spent £650 million, and next Monday is Manic Monday when online discounts will drive us to part with even more cash.

In that context, I think we should actually be celebrating the traditional spirit displayed by those people queuing - and queue-jumping.

And then of course, it’s easy to be sniffy about other people’s loss of dignity when you have everything you need and can afford everything you want.

It’s “just a telly” and “just a laptop” when you have the best of them. But because you are lucky, doesn’t mean you should make unpleasant remarks on social media about people who need to take any opportunity they can to save a bit of cash.

Agreed, it’s all a bit contrived - two years ago Black Friday would have meant nothing to the British public - but it doesn’t mean the end of the world is nigh.

The names are new, but the theme is the same: it’s Christmas, we’re spending like idiots. We’ve always done that.

Sarah Champion MP

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