The shopping centre is a place of mystery, motive and intrigue. Your average casually-clad consumer saunters amongst aisles of T-shirts, jeans and trainers, looking for something that attracts him.
He already has a full wardrobe of perfectly suitable clothing at home. In fact, he wasn’t even intending to buy anything, but the brightly-coloured sale signs outside brought him in just for a ‘quick look’.
It’s the idea that he might be able to exchange less money than usual for an item he doesn’t want that excites him. He, in other words, has been fooled into spending his money.
The consumerist society is fascinated by price tags, which represent how much a shop thinks it can get for a product. Sales are eye-opening, because they demonstrate how much profit shops are actually making on everything they sell. The reason we’re so entranced by the summer sales is because we think we’ve made a gain: getting a T-shirt that’s half price makes us feel like we’ve earned the money we’ve saved.
But hang on, just a second. A T-shirt is only worth as much as it means to the person buying it; we normally decide whether we’d prefer to have the £20 in our pocket or the T-shirt that is supposedly worth the same. But when there’s £5 off, we’re now thinking not about the T-shirt, but the saving. In fact, the T-shirt doesn’t really matter – what we want is to have an extra £5.
As a result, we spend hours walking around the shops trying to persuade ourselves that we like the things we see, because we want to have got something cheaply.
But since they’re products that no-one else wanted, their value has decreased anyway. We’ve just paid some money for something we don’t really want or need.
So when you’re stocking up for your holidays, don’t be tricked by the sales. Be sensible – don’t come home with two jumpers that were half price, when all you really wanted were swimming trunks.
-- Tony is editor of the Sixth Form Journal at King Edward VI School.
He says: “On subjects from the Tory education reforms to the characterisation of ‘nerd culture’, students at King Edward VI School have something to say. Their polemic student magazine – The Sixth Form Journal – is full of passionate opinion writing that has attracted online views from over 25 countries since its launch in June. Run by the students, for the students, it showcases the views of youths with a real interest in writing.
See the latest articles at www.thesixthformjournal.com.