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Shoppers of the world unite

Let’s take a moment to mourn the loss of retail workers’ will to live during these tough times.

Black Friday is upon us, and I firmly believe that everyone should have a retail job at some point in their life, just to appreciate how difficult those jobs truly are, and how annoying the general public can be. I’m sure being trampled on and abused by animalistic shoppers scrambling for the next big discount is not their idea of a good day.

I’d like to begin this blog with a reference to a film I have watched more times than I’d like to admit: Confessions of a Shopaholic. The film follows clothes enthusiast Rebecca Bloomwood, as she tries to juggle her growing debts and her intense shopping addiction. Her financial woes only worsen, as she continues to dodge the debt collector and hit the shops whenever she smells a sale. Eventually she loses her credibility and her closest friend. It’s only after a massive sale of her own that she begins to piece her life back together.

As I say, I’ve only watched it a thousand a few times. The golden message is one we all tend to forget as the big holiday sales come around…

It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.

No matter how much everybody loves to bash capitalism, I always thought one of its redeeming features was that every need or want you could ever possibly have was catered for somewhere. Therefore you have the means to do or be anything you want to be: all you need to do is find the right product, service or person that can help you.

But growth isn’t always a good thing.

We produce so much pointless rubbish for the sake of profits. Recently I spotted the album Gok’s Divas in HMV – who on earth is keeping that in demand? For a lot of useless tat, the demand has to be created. The problem with constant growth is that we have to consume more and more just to maintain it, never mind top it. Consumerism will have us believe we need so much unnecessary shit in order to live a happy life. It also leaves room for a rise in shopping addiction, where people buy things they don’t need for a temporary buzz and as a way to cope with their problems.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the impulse to just splurge on largely useless items simply because we have the money.

My latest pay check saw me become the reluctant owner of ABBAs Greatest Hits on vinyl (who am I kidding, I’m fooling no one – I fucking love Dancing Queen), and there’s rarely a pay day which goes by without my debit card taking a beating at Waterstones. But when those urges get out of control, lives are ruined. Debt destroys self confidence, and intensifies feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Another key point to take from the film is that Rebecca was a lucky one. She was able to sell her belongings and escape her debts. But what about the unlucky ones; those who end up consumed by their debts, losing their homes, families and friends for good?

There’s nothing wrong with little luxuries in life, and treating yourself is an important part of being a human.

My point is not to have a go at people for making the most out of a bargain. What I’m saying is: financial control is so easily shattered, and stability is not something many of us can take for granted. There are so many financially vulnerable adults who are just one unexpected bill away from struggling. Young people are borrowing to cover basic living costs, and many workers are struggling to afford food. We are encouraged to spend irresponsibly by these kind of major sales holidays, but we don’t have to. We can resist the efforts of big brands and reject the urge to splurge. I know I’m going to review all the items in my shopping carts on checkout and really be honest and strict with myself: Do I need this? Do I need this?

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