Don’t be a Slave to Commercialism this Valentine’s Day

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We’ve all walked into the local supermarket in early November, noticed the endless aisles of Advent Calendars, Christmas Decorations and reduced price alcohol and asked ourselves that familiar question- is it really that time of year again?

Everybody on campus is always so busy with their individual workload and social life that we always assume that the introduction of these annual festival themed products actually coincides with the appropriate time of year, but this is very rarely the case. In fact, many shops start drawing us in to their commercial celebrations months too early.

In a world dominated by the power of advertising in our fast-paced lives, commercialism appears to be a means of conning us out of our (already limited) pots of money. Since Christmas 2014 ended, franchises all over the UK have already started stocking their shelves with overpriced and unnecessary Valentine’s day merchandise. Even the Spar on campus has jumped on bandwagon, offering ‘half price’ boxes of chocolates and similar gifts that many of us just wouldn’t buy otherwise.

Similarly, the Sainsbury’s in Lancaster city centre has taken this to a more extravagant extreme, offering party hats, plates and cups embellished with small hearts. Many restaurants are already advertisings things such as ‘meals for two on Valentine’s Day’, with promise of saving money. But the reality is if you are not a person who eats out on a regular basis, you are actually spending more money than you would normally.

According to the Telegraph, the average British man spends £36 on Valentine’s Day, and the average British woman spends £23 – arguably an unnecessary expense for a holiday that was traditionally about the celebration of love.

Yet this marketing overkill does not just stop after Valentine’s Day, but seemingly infiltrates every so-called ‘big event’ of the year. We will soon see advertisements for Easter Eggs, sunglasses for the Summer Holidays, costumes for Halloween, fireworks for Bonfire Night, and then it’s Christmas again. And athough we can see that these supposed bargains are in fact thinly vieled rubbish, we justify our indulgent purchases by telling ourselves that it is a one of due to the upcoming holiday, when in actual fact this is merely a marketing ploy, designed to persuade you into doing exactly that- all year round.

By all means, celebrate every holiday as much as you feel necessary, but do be aware of the way that large companies cleverly commercialise these events to end up costing you more than it really should; nobody needs to sift through mountains of plastic balloons after every celebrated event.

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