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Why I'm Not On Board With Black Friday

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It's probably not something I should admit as a fashion editor, but I really don't like shopping. Once upon a time, perusing the high street was perfect for whiling away hours on the weekend. Now, at the ripe old age of 27, I can't think of anything I'd rather do less than head to Oxford Street to battle sharp-elbowed sale shoppers, feel self-conscious beneath unflattering changing-room lights, and get a headache from banging electro/dub/house by an emerging artist I'm too old to know about. It's not even the physical retail experience that bothers me (I rarely shop online either), it's more that the older I get, the less interested I am in the cheap thrills and short-lived gratification of disposable, fast fashion. I'd much rather occasionally treat myself to a quality, ethically made investment piece that could last a lifetime – or at least, longer than one machine wash.

Certain stores still fill me with glee (Céline, Dover Street Market, Acne, Liberty, The Store) but I only venture into them bi-annually and even then, it's mostly window shopping. No amount of neon sale signage can entice me into a store swarming with ruthless women on a mission to quite literally shop 'til they drop. I used to be one of them and it's not pretty.

So it is with reluctance that I have had to accept that Black Friday is now officially a thing in the UK. According to the Evening Standard, last year, British consumers spent £3.3bn over the mammoth shopping weekend, and analysts have estimated that we'll spend an eye-watering £5bn this year. To the uninitiated, Black Friday is America's annual shopping extravaganza, falling the day after Thanksgiving, when stores unveil huge reductions on products ahead of the holiday season. I'd only just come to terms with how big a deal Halloween is; and now a post-Thanksgiving retail frenzy in the UK, too?! Thanks America.

I get it. For people looking to buy Christmas presents cheaply, Black Friday is a welcome addition to shops' sale calendars. But do we really need another excuse to spend wantonly on things we arguably don't need? How many of us have bought things on sale, just because? I'd like to think of myself as a reasonably sensible and practical person but not that long ago I purchased a microscopic Chloé bag that can scarcely contain my Oyster card, just because it was discounted. I've convinced myself that it's okay that I can only wear it over a coat with big enough pockets to carry all my belongings. I also have a set of unused weighing scales under my bed that I bought for 65% off. I've probably baked thrice in my life but they looked pretty and were kind of, almost, free(ish).

For the past fortnight my inbox has been inundated with Black Friday deals and shopping tips, while every other advert on the TV or radio seems to be for The Most Unmissable Discounts That You Need Right Now. Black Friday is no longer a one-day event either, having been renamed Cyber Week(end). For the majority of keen shoppers, retail giant Amazon will be the first port of call for impressive deals. The website revealed that Black Friday 2015 was its biggest sales day in the UK, when over six million items were bought.

Word of warning: if you are going to do Black Friday, online is undoubtedly the wisest way to do it. We've all seen the images of manic shoppers fighting tooth and nail over plasma screens and Nespresso machines. You're safer (and more dignified) behind your computer screen.

The best Black Friday deals can be found on technology and electric appliances, so if you're in the market for a new smartphone or kitchen tool, this week's your best bet. If you're planning to do your Black Friday shopping on your mobile, download store apps now and get your payment details saved so you don't stall at the online checkout and fall at the last hurdle. If you're committing to it wholeheartedly and heading to the shops IRL this weekend, rather than enjoying the safety of your sofa, make a list of things you actually require (wardrobe essentials, kids' clothes, necessary homeware) and a strict, smaller list of things you'd really like, so you don't come home with a ransacked bank balance and heaps of crap you'll never use.

Be strong, be brave, be safe – and think before you buy!
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