Guten tag from Germany. . .
‘Empty out those old piggybanks!” read the sales flyer that turned up in my mail slot this weekend. Although participation may vary, the European hypermarket réal is accepting euro (€) predecessor Deutsche Mark (DM) as payment at its stores from today through Saturday, the 28th of November.
The réal plan is an interesting one. On one level, the store is hoping to reinvigorate the stagnant economy by encouraging consumers to spend currency that has not held value since its cancellation on 28 February, 2002. On another level, réal is re-opening the debate over participation with the unified currency of the European Union.
réal operates some 440 stores in five European countries, Germany, Poland, Romania, Turkey and Russia. The first three of these are member states of the EU, while the balance are part of the Union’s sphere of influence through the European Neighbourhood Policy. Among these five nations, only the Federal Republic of Germany officially uses the euro as its currency. It should also be noted that réal acquired all properties from Wal-Mart following the retail giant’s abandonment of its German mission in 2006.
Whatever the potential political ramifications of réal’s DM payment scheme, I would be remiss not to point out that plan perfectly coincides with what is busiest day of the American shopping year. Just as Valentine’s Day and Halloween before it, Black Friday is slowly colonizing European society.
Capitalism and culture make curious bedfellows.