News / USA

Restrained Joy as Americans Launch Christmas Shopping Season

Macy's aisles are crowded with shoppers on Black Friday - called that because the surge of shoppers could take retailers into profitability, Manhattan, 26 Nov. 2010
Macy's aisles are crowded with shoppers on Black Friday - called that because the surge of shoppers could take retailers into profitability, Manhattan, 26 Nov. 2010

For many Americans, the day after Thanksgiving, often called "Black Friday," marks the traditional beginning of the holiday season, when consumers crowd stores in search of Christmas and Hanukah gifts, and retailers hope to make a good profit. However, in today's ailing U.S. economy, that consumer spending is down.

For New Yorkers, the sound of hand bells being rung outside Macy's department store by red-bedecked Salvation Army volunteers is as sure a sign of the holiday season as the crowds of shoppers along Manhattan's 34th Street. This is Ram's second season here.

"We're always out here every Black Friday and enjoy being out here with the people and the noise and everything," Ram said. "The sight and smells and seeing the window displays and all of that. You can't beat it here in New York City. There are all kind of things going on. But it's still frantic," he said.

Indeed, one can see a certain frenzied joy in Belinda's face, as she sorts through a rack of discounted ladies sweaters in a store nearby. She is one of thousands who came to shop the Big Apple from out of town, looking for bargains.

BELINDA: "Oh it's crazy! I'm getting hot in the stores there are so many people. But it's pretty cool. My cousins and my girlfriend came down with me so we are having a lot of fun. For us it's a good hearted thing because we are just sort of taking our time."

PHILLIPS: Some people say the economy is very hard this year because people have less money. Is that a factor for you?

BELINDA: "Yes it is… Actually it even affected my job. I lost my job in September so…."

PHILLIPS: "How does that alter the equation for you?"

BELINDA: "It alters the type of things I would buy [and] how much I would buy. We draw names in the family, names so instead of [each person] buying for everybody, each person will pick one person. Then everybody still gets something."

When people have little or no work, the people who would normally be hired to sell to those people can also lose their jobs. That's what has Winnie, a saleswoman in a small clothing shop, concerned.

PHILLIPS: "How does it feel from the beginning of the Christmas season from your point of view?

WINNIE: "It's not that good. It's like so-so, you know."

PHILLIPS: "So business isn't so great right now."

WINNIE: "No I don't think so. Because people don't have the money to buy, there are lots of people who don't have jobs."

PHILLIPS: "Is your job in danger?"

WINNIE: "Yeah."

The generous aisles of the Golden Mall Jewelry Shop are crowded, but Sammy, the manager says that most are just looking, not buying. He is guardedly optimistic on the season's first shopping day, but adds that business has been slow all year.

SAMMY: "Very much. I would say more than fifty percent, it's been down. We see a sign of improvement but we have to see sales."

PHILLIPS: "Hanukah is also here. Is that part to your business too or is it really just Christmas stuff?"

SAMMY: "We celebrate everything as long as they give us money."

PHILLIPS: "Is that the true spirit of it?"

SAMMY: "That's the true spirit of it."

Whether the true spirit of the season is expressed best through cash or gift-giving and carols or some wholly American hybrid emotion, this much is clear: today's dampened economic climate offers little cause for merriment.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid