As an international crossroads it's inevitable that Belgium blends some of the diverse cultural flavours of elsewhere with its established repertoire of traditions and dates of note. It may even happen that in catering for its foreign residents, Belgium develops a taste of its own for certain celebrations previously reserved for calendars abroad. It's literally the meaning of multiculturalism.
And in the spirit of openness and benevolence, it befalls us to look peaceably upon these happenings, though we are of course under no obligation to participate. This option to abstain is exactly what some Belgian stores are exercising with their decision to explicitly not take part in Black Friday.
In fact, they're going a bit further and closing both their physical and online shops in an effort to stir customers to consider their buying habits. The chains involved were keen to stress that this isn't just a PR stunt (though it kinda is) and preempted criticism of their moral stance by quipping that they "don't pretend to be more Catholic than the Pope".
And whilst the Black Friday phenomenon is seen by many Europeans as an American aberration that amounts to little more than a brazen consumerist binge, is the decision of these stores not a little bit noble? There is certainly money to be made by retailers and many are only too happy to forget about environmental standards or ethical considerations to make a quick killing.
Certainly it would be nice if folks over here could see the whole bonanza for what it really is and simply turn their noses up at the "deals" dangled in front of them. Much better that we show we can spend consciously and understand that not indulging speaks louder than fuelling the frenzy with our cash.
Sadly the now-annual scenes of shoppers scrabbling over discounted electrical goods paint a damning picture of "civilisation". Are we really that greedy? It's almost like a yearly test of consumer restraint, and one we woefully fail.
Sick of Black Friday before it's even arrived? Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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This year, chains such as Dille & Kamille and Xandres will not participate in Black Friday (25 November). Instead of offering extreme discounts on their products, they will keep their doors closed to encourage customers to think about their consumption habits. Read more.
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