Black Friday saves us all money, creates great offers and helps us afford Christmas right?
I was really keen that this post wasn't a moan fest or in some way a Scrooge style blog but it's important to call out what we see while offering an alternative that is more positive and uplifting.
Black Friday is a relatively recent adoption in the UK which has the singular and the simple purpose of selling more stuff. Any stuff will do, but quantity shifted is the benchmark. It is not about creating more festive cheer, making Christmas more magical or helpfully saving us cash.
Caveat - Of course, sometimes we need stuff and we need to buy it around now and there are great, ethical companies who have genuine offers in store right now - great news.
However, what we don't want to be lulled into is a zombie like buying spree that will simply fill our homes, and unfortunately landfill, with stuff. Stuff that doesn't make us happy, fulfilled or better off. Black Friday is, in fact, an opportunity to pause, reflect and assess how were actually going to save money, create less waste and gain some Christmas cheer along the way. For that, I'm grateful.
What's the alternative then?
For those of you I haven't already bored to death about these factoids....Britain's private business landscape is 96% micro in size. That is, they have 0-9 people in them. They occupy our towns, villages, and communities up and down the land. Sometimes on our high streets, sometimes in offices, homes and sheds. They cover almost the whole breadth of business type from Christmassy makers to professional services. Currently numbering 5.2 million approximately (if you include sole traders) - that's a lot of folks who deliver significant economic value to us as a country.
But what else do they do?
As mentioned, they are in our communities, all around us. They're buying coffees, using other small business services, providing exceptional experiences and reinvesting their income into better offerings.
They are also able to take care of loved ones, walk the dog, notice neighbours, provide valuable work and transform lives. They are efficient & provide more sustainable ways to buy or experience.
We need them to be there to keep our communities alive. We need them to continue artisan skills. We need them to mend our boilers (insert 1 million other super practical magic). We need them to pay their valuable taxes. We need them to make life beautiful. We need them to make life human and purchasing a pleasure.
They need us too.
While we're potentially blinded by the 'savings' we can make on Black Friday, we might assume shopping small is inevitably more expensive or not for us when times are hard. We might forget about those small businesses we don't spend our money with. However the pounds we do spend are like a little vote for what we want to see and experience around us. We want vibrant communities and little cafes that care. We want experiences that leave us uplifted and a sense that our money has supported many other people we can see around us. Small businesses right now are fearful that their magic will be dulled by the sparkle of big ads on telly. They need to make the most of this season as we head to a sparse New Year and empty purses. They want to continue to provide epic experiences, gifts and services that have real and lasting impact that can be shared, passed down or loved for a long time.
If you're fortunate enough to have spare funds to buy gifts then take a moment this weekend to think about your purse like a voting machine....who do you want to support? Who do you want to help? How do you ant your community to look and how do you want your neighbours to thrive?