Today is the official spendy frenzy of Black Friday and it’s time to

… ask yourself some searching questions in the vein of Oscar Wilde discoursing about the cynic

A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

because apparently you must go out and bag yourself a bargain this weekend. So what are these bargains they tell me of, then? I may as well start with what I know 🙂

Bargains I tell ya
Bargains I tell ya

So what do we have here? Top left, a shaver, which apparently was ‘worth’ £300 and is now half that. Now the Mail is not targeted at Russian oligarchs, or the sort of bullshit you get in the seat-back in business class, or even the Torygraph’s look-but-don’t-touch Luxury section. So it wouldn’t be unreasonable to imagine the typical Daily Mail Reader on the median UK wage, apparently £517 per week last year. From all the wittering about stagnating wages, automation and damned furreners I don’t imagine it’s gone up that much in the last year. These are apparently gross earnings, so a quick spin on ListenToTaxman tells me

Listen to Taxman gives it you straight
Listen to Taxman gives it you straight

that this fellow gets a gnat’s over £400 per week. So let’s say he runs a 40 hour week then he’s earning £10 per hour. Sadly his commute costs him more time and to add insult to injury the train companies seem to take a dim view of not paying. The FIrestarter did the maths, I’ll assume my punter eats a 25% hit rather than TFS’s 1/3 hit. So our Daily Mail Reader needs to spend an hour working/going to work for every £7.50 he earns.

Righty-ho, so he wants a shaver, call it £150. That’s 20 hours of not seeing his wife and kids… The Ermine is clearly behind the times, I didn’t realise you can spend that much on a shaver. So be it. We have the Nespresso Lattissima coffee machine, yours for £125, that’s 15 hours at work. I’ve already had the rant about how a Nespresso anything is a way to electively pay more for a restricted range of coffee, and produce more needless waste compared to the gonzo filter cone. But here you have to add the extra time to decoke this darned thing, because the combination of milk and heat is a cleaning nightmare, so you have to factor in the extra cost of the cleaning help. Or be prepared to take half an hour over an espresso, half of which is to clean out the milk section. The advantage Starbucks has is they amortize the cleaning over lots of coffee drinkers, whereas drinking 50 cups of espresso a day is going some at home.

So let’s move on to the pretty lady then. mail6Somebody really ought to tell her that winter’s coming, but what the hell. The trusty Ermine calculator tells me that is about 634 of your Great British Pounds for four items of clothing, so she’ll be working a month and a half [ref]Clive is absolutely right, it’s not as bad as that[/ref]a shade over two weeks  to pay for that little lot.

Black Friday is For Fripperies, not Fundamentals

Not so fast –  the time calculation gets worse. All these good people have to live somewhere and presumably eat something, so we really ought to run these calculations using disposable income. The Money Advice Service tells us that the average monthly disposable income is £224 [ref]lies, damned lies and statistics, eh, note the shocking sleight of hand switching from median to average. When it comes to income, it seems the stinking rich lift the average with respect to the median so that £224 is probably an overestimate[/ref]. Mind you, these are the same fellows who tell us that  it’s news to 1 in 100 of our fellow countrymen that you are supposed to pay a loan back, so maybe they fish in murky pools for their punters.

All of a sudden our shaver purchaser is looking at working for three weeks to get his whiskers trimmed, and our summery lady is looking at the wrong side of three months to buy that outfit.

Personally I’m on the other side of Oscar’s cynic.  There are a lot of very clever people out there. They go to work every day to make you screw up your finances by buying shit you don’t need. And Q4 of every year they go into overdrive.

‘just think of your children – buy these loom band kits’

Reminds me of Charlotte Metcalf buying Silly Bandz for Christmas because she couldn’t bear to tell her daughter that she didn’t have any money left. WTF is it with selling overpriced rubber bands to children?

Where’s Tyler Durden when you need him, eh?

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.

Happy Black Friday, all, and Cyber Monday, two inventions designed to put the consumers of the UK further away from financial independence. We can’t have the people giving The Man the middle finger, eh, so run along and form an orderly queue to buy shit you don’t need. No fighting on the shop floor, okay?


20 thoughts on “Today is the official spendy frenzy of Black Friday and it’s time to”

  1. As I walked through the beautiful city center of Winchester today I could’nt help but wonder whether all those hordes of people fighting over a £249 TV reduced by £60 would have given it a 2nd glance had the original price just been set at £189.

    It seems our desire for a ‘bargain’ completely overrules common sense and, as we’ve seen today, decency towards others. Crazy.


  2. Utter madness all of it.

    £300 for a razor?! As mentioned in a post I’ve just published I’ve been using a DE safety razor for a while now. It gives a great shave and the blades cost literally pennies. I’d wager I spend less of foam and blades than an electric would cost in leccy or batteries on an ongoing basis.


  3. well – I confess I was suckered by Black Friday. My usual catering coffee suppliers were both offering me Black Friday special offers on coffee beans which were genuinely a good deal, and Ermine Towers was indeed running low, so we will be receiving 9 kilos in short order. A pal will buy a bag or two from me, and the rest will keep Mr Ermine and I in coffee contentedness for some time to come.


  4. @ Mrs Ermine

    I think the key problem with this American invention is that it encourages others to purchase items they would have never considered doing so before. If you were already planning to (or already do!) buy the item.. Perfect! Although I suspect you are in the minority.

    Glad to hear yourself and Ermine shall remain on a caffeine high for months to come 😀


  5. I was astonished to learn that you even have a Black Friday in your country – is it simply the “Day after The United States Thanksgiving”?


  6. @EarlyRetirementGuy it’s the oldest trick in the book, eh? The hype machine is so much more aggressive now with this dreamed up pre-Christmas buy buy buy. I like the way they trail “lots of deals” but only have about two or three in stock – the classic bait and switch.

    @Faun’s your surprise is justified, I think we’ve only had Black Friday for two years now, and we still don’t get to eat turkey before Christmas!

    @UTMT You’re in good company with ERE with the straight DS razor option.

    @Mrs Ermine running out of coffee would never do, all sorts of gnashing of teeth would ensue. I guess we’ll just have to be consumerist running-dogs then, and try and avoid injury by falling TV – or worse!


  7. Makes me incandescent – why do we have to have this ‘Black Friday’ nonsense landed on us by the cynical merchandisers?

    There were fights in Oxford St, I gather (I was at home with my feet up, listening to The Division Bell, so didn’t give a flying fig). Pah!



  8. Actually I think black Friday is a great import as it reduces the consumerist pressure on Christmas at no loss to us Brits as thanksgiving has no meaning for us. In addition I suspect black Friday will become a much used and easily recognised example of all that is wrong with society, in this sense at least I suspect the retailers may have shot themselves in the foot.


  9. Black friday sale is a big con.
    The tv i bought last month was 489 euros on combiwebshop nl and 440 pounds on electricshop uk. Now it is 459 pounds on electricshop.
    Happy Black Friday ?


  10. I had a great black friday.
    We were looking at buying a pram for the baby.
    Wife was going to drag me to the pram shop, which I hate, to try out prams.

    Black Friday, pram reduced by half, bought online. So got it cheaper but best of all I don’t have to go to the shop!


  11. Five years ago I don’t thing we even had black Friday in the uk

    Now on page 2 of the business section if the FT you can see two fat chavs brawling over a TV in ASDA at 4 am

    This isn’t really progress


  12. The UK does indeed follow the US. It reminds me of the classic GIL SCOTT-HERON TRACK “B-Movie”

    “What has happened is that in the last twenty years, America has changed from a producer to a consumer. And all consumers know that when the producer names the tune, the consumer has got to dance…”


  13. @Clive – indeed – appreciated! I credited you for the correction due to my mathematical challengedness with the strikeout and explanation 😉


  14. Black Friday takes place in Canada too. Good thing for me this year.
    First thing Friday morning my 10 year old electric shaver broke apart as I was using it. So I ended up at Walmart and got a good deal on a replacement unit. I daresay less than 150 GBP.
    Later that same day I was listening to holiday music when a 25 year old budget priced receiver stopped functioning. Off to Best Buy and another decent deal on a replacement stereo componebt – more power, similar performance for about 1/3 the cost of the old unit purchased in 1990. Sometimes your spending isn’t a total waste.


  15. I had a giggle as Mr. Coworker Consumer came back from his Thanksgiving vacation telling me about the stunning deals… he “saved” $225 by buying several area rugs for his already carpeted apartment.


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