News / Europe

    Scrimp or Spend? Europeans Do Both This Holiday Season

    Shoppers visit the Christmas market along the Champs Elysees in Paris, December 3, 2011.
    Shoppers visit the Christmas market along the Champs Elysees in Paris, December 3, 2011.
    Lisa Bryant

    Europeans head into a grim holiday season, as governments cut spending and recession fears mount for 2012.  Austerity is the byword in some of the countries hardest hit by Europe's debt crisis, but others are sending out the old year with a final, celebratory bash.

    Shoppers crowd the holiday window displays outside the Galleries Lafayette, the famous department store in central Paris. Most are juggling shopping bags filled with holiday gifts. Thirty-five-year-old Alexandra de Brito is among the few who is bare-handed.

    De Brito says she will not be buying any presents this Christmas time - even though she makes a good salary.  Instead, she will make her family a good Christmas dinner and buy them presents during the after-Christmas sales. That is because the cost of everything is going up, she says - everything except salaries.

    Across Europe, citizens like De Brito are pulling in their belts this holiday season - in line with their governments, who are introducing austerity measures to combat the region's sovereign debt and banking crisis. In some of the hardest-hit countries, like Portugal, Greece and Spain, local governments have cut their holiday budgets and dimmed their Christmas lights.

    But the picture is more mixed in countries like France, which are still teetering on the brink of the eurozone crisis. Thousands of people protested in Paris and other French cities this last week against new government austerity measures.

    Twenty-five-year-old student Pierre Dubovatsky joined the Paris demonstrations.

    "I am afraid for my future," he said. "I do not have enough money to live [on] ...  As things are difficult and I do not live with my family, I will just use the little money I have to get my family in the south of France, and this will be how I'll be celebrating Christmas.  There will be no presents, just getting together."

    British tourists Paul and Anita Scotney, eyeing a window display at a Cartier's diamond store on the elegant Champs Elysees, are also worried.

    "We are not here to buy anything really," he said. "It is just purely to see my son and to see Paris, because we have never been to Paris before."

    Although Britain is not part of the eurozone, its economy is struggling, and the Scotneys are concerned.

    "Depressed, mostly," said Paul Scotney. "Worried. I am retired so it does not really affect me but Anita is still working, so the job situation could affect us."

    But other people - French and Europeans -  are opening their pocketbooks this holiday season. Throngs packed department stores during the last weekend before Christmas.  Analyst Philippe Moreau Defarges believes people are celebrating while they can.

    "I think many Europeans and many French are becoming aware that next year will be difficult," he said. "That is why if we can have a last merry Christmas - let us take it."

    As strollers admire the holiday decorations on the Champs Elysees, a young man called Gwele rings a bell for the Salvation Army charity, soliciting donations.

    Gwele says the French are still giving to the poor and homeless  this holiday season - aware that they are the first to suffer in these hard economic times.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.