Why it pays not to be prepared

If you’re after some deals on your Christmas shopping, you will be one of the millions of Brits looking forward to Black Friday – the US-born buying frenzy that saw retailers post record profits last year.

The tradition, akin to an amplified version of our Boxing Day Sales, seems to have firmly taken its place in the nation’s hearts, with £3.3billion spent during the event in 2015.

Consumers feel like they are bagging a bargain ahead of the traditional Christmas shopping period, and despite its recent introduction to our high streets, retailers are already getting in on the act, with many starting their campaigns days or even weeks ahead of time, to maximise sales.

It seems like a win/win situation for consumers and retailers, but when you place Black Friday into its seasonal context, you can see a rollercoaster of festivities and feasting that starts in early October with the preparations for Halloween and doesn’t end until the last piece of tat has left the shelves in the January sales (when the Easter Eggs are swiftly brought out).

So what effect does this rampant marketing and consumerism have on our waistlines? In the race for profits, retailers are extending their sales periods for seasonal events to the point where there is no break between them. All of the major supermarket Christmas adverts (and their surrounding hype) have already been launched and we are not even in December. Quality Street chocolates are being advertised on TV with a mum opening up a large tub for the family to dive in, with the tagline: “it’s not Christmas until…” We are encouraged to “be prepared” and “get into the spirit” of seasonal events long before the day itself. Where in the past we might have one blow-out calorific Christmas day, we’re now snacking on mince pies and mulled wine in November and starting to stock up on Easter bunnies and hot cross buns in January.

All of this excess only leads to the normalisation of over eating, making it “ok” to indulge because it’s a special occasion. But when those special occasions happen on every day of the year, it’s not hard to see why obesity rates are rising to catastrophic levels.