UK shoppers adopt American bargain hunting craze

Never for a minute did I imagine that UK shoppers would be indulging themselves in the antics of our American cousins on what has become known as Black Friday.

And yet there I was reading in the American press of mindless British citizens making fools of themselves in the aisles of numerous big stores where bargains were on offer.

The shopping spree that follows Thanksgiving Day is in fact an American tradition and sees the nation rouse itself at ungodly hours to be first to get a bargain in the various malls throughout the land. Or so we are led to believe.

The reality is a little different, for despite the hype of the day, I have the impression that over the 20 plus years of coming to the USA, there has been a dramatic falling off of early shopping, although the bargains are still there if you care to look, especially if you go online.

I was in fact tempted into parting with $200, picking up an iPad for my little sister, forcing her into the world of hi-tech, even in the generally backward Borders where she lives.

America has always grasped the world of electronics, even as far back as the 1920s when every home, right down to the very poor, had a range of domestic appliances UK households could only dream of. If you think I am making it up, I suggest you read Bill Bryson’s “The Year of 1927”. An informed read that I just could not put down.

The Americans are a fascinating people who unlike our various European countries did not experience a social revolution, but instead as a nation were financially shrewd, looking after lower orders better than say the UK who mercilessly played the class card, and for that matter still does.

But don’t get me wrong I still would have second thoughts about residing here, even if I have the greatest admiration for their openness, mixed with a patriotic fervour.

They know their history, for despite our efforts to rubbish it, is rich and reveals much about its pride in all things American.

As suggested last week in this column, I am at total variance with the American love of the gun, and in particular the casual manner in which it has mowed down its own citizens in the streets over the years.

I am, however, not going to get drawn into the happenings in Ferguson where riots took place after a Grand Jury ruled in favour of the white policeman who gunned down black teenager Michael Brown earlier in the year.

Interestingly, President Obama called for a commonsense approach to the issue, asking the community to respect the law.

But while we are generally spared such extremes, it should not be forgotten that former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was very keen to arm our police. The Ferguson story surely serves as a warning that this must never come to be in Scotland.

I am now back in the UK, braced for the winter chills, and worse, the Christmas shopping spree which is just around the corner. Bring it on!