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No matter how deep the discount…

For many people this Black Friday, a bargain was no longer enough

Jenni Avins
By Jenni Avins

global lifestyle correspondent

By now, the dust has settled from Black Friday, which in the US marks the post-Thanksgiving kickoff to the Christmastime consumer frenzy. It’s when Apple products, Legos, and cashmere scarves replace turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

This very American tradition has even spread to Britain, where, The New York Times reports (paywall), the fourth Friday in November has brought “disorder and chaos,” as well as a 10% sales surge. This year should have been especially crazed, as retailers struggling with overstock and stiff online competition offered earlier opening times and deeper discounts to attract holiday shoppers.

And yet, despite the odd food-court fisticuffs, the US shopping day was relatively slow. Much of this, of course, can be attributed to shoppers taking their business online, but it seems a greater movement is afoot.

Even—or perhaps especially—post-recession, a bargain is no longer enough. Our values have shifted. For more than a year now, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a guide to de-cluttering one’s life, has sat on the New York Times best-seller list. Even the clothes-horses among us have embraced systems to limit our consumption and work with what we have. Some even enlist the help of psychologists.

For Quartz’s 2015 gift guide, 40 people told us about the best present they ever received. You probably wouldn’t want to take it shopping. Few, if any of the featured gifts could be re-gifted to someone else. Rather, they conveyed some fresh perspective, personal understanding, or a moment—or, in the case of, say, a piano or even a grandchild, countless moments—of joy. Maybe we’re shopping on our phones instead of in stores, or spending money on experiences rather than stuff. But just maybe, on the day after Thanksgiving, some of us simply felt full, and not only of food.

This was published as part of the Quartz Weekend Brief. Sign up for our newsletters here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.

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