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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid