Monday, 31 August 2015

Consumer Traps

There are an awful lot of traps waiting to trip you and your wallet up in the Western world of conspicuous consumption. Marketing ploys, gimmicks, tantalizing window displays, tempting discounts and deals – all consumer traps designed to encourage us to buy, buy buy.
One of the most insidious traps is that which convinces us of a need we don’t have, then promises to fill it. The one which most readily springs to mind – mostly because it is so astonishingly superfluous – is the sale of seasonal decor.
I don’t mean a Halloween pumpkin or ghosts dangling from the eaves at the end of October, or a Christmas wreath or garland with red bows. I mean actual furniture and decor, housewares being hawked as replaceable as the seasons change.
Summer’s drawing to a close, autumn’s on its way – time to pull out the rust-and-gold pillows and nappy wool throws, time to replace the airy summer bed linens with rich autumnal shades, time to cover all surfaces with pumpkin hues and all things bark-and-wood.
There’s a chill in the air, winter’s breath is blowing the last few fall leaves from the trees – time to drape the furniture in fur throws, replace that crystal stemware with rich red glass and glittery chargers to go with your chunky winter white tableware, recover the bed again in deep, warm colours – bedskirt and duvet, sheets and shams and a half-dozen throw pillows in varying satins and velvets in red and gold and green.
The snow is melting, birds are chirping, spring is springing – time to lighten up! Toss those throw pillows in plush fabrics and deep, dark shades. Cosy is out, cool is in! Light fabrics, florals, clear glass, crystal. Crisp, clean watery blues and leafy greens and lots and lots of light, bright whites. New outdoor tableware – acrylics in fun patterns and funky colours ready for summer barbecues.
Are you kidding me?
I’ve been sleeping under the same duvet and cover for more years than I care to admit. My furniture is my furniture – I’m not going to change it because the season happens to be changing. I mean, I don’t even buy new clothes because the season happens to be changing – I’m not buying a new armchair just because it has a leaf motif.
But the conspicuous consumption of our consumer culture tells us that we should – this season, next season, and the season after that.
Have you ever fallen for this sort of consumer trap? Are you ever tempted?
Originally published as "Consumer Traps" on my weekly column at

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