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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid