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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid