OPINION

Lining up for the Holy Grail

Why did traffic on the capital’s main artery of Syngrou Avenue come to standstill twice within one month? The reason was because thousands of shoppers rushed to the openings of the city’s two new electronics superstores. So why were people lining up from the early morning hours? Was it to celebrate the stores’ grand openings? Let’s assume that they were after the advertised bargains – an electronic notebook for 300 euros, a digital camera for 99 euros, a TFT screen television for 500 euros and so on. And so people waited for hours under the scorching sun until they could walk through the doors to purchase any gadget, any tool that a poor man could possible desire – and all at bargain prices. Losing one’s soul to consumerism. The sight of shoppers lining up outside shopping centers before dawn to snap up bargains may be unusual in Greece, but not so in other countries. The launch of every new Apple product attracts thousands of shoppers who camp outside store entrances until the doors open early in the morning so they can be the first to lay their hands on the new arrivals. In London, New York and other big cities, thousands line up outside the luxury stores to take advantage of season sales. In modern consumer societies, people with low incomes but inflated needs await that rare opportunity to enter a material heaven. They know they must be constantly on the alert so they can seize the moment. It’s certainly worth the inconvenience and trouble. And, perhaps, the humiliation: The selfish petit bourgeois joins the crushed greedy mob in the pursuit of the Holy Grail – a cashmere sweater, a camera, mobile phone or laptop – all at bargain prices. The impending recession will exasperate the phenomenon. As incomes come under pressure, the hunger for consumer goods will grow. And the lines outside stores with sales will grow.