Celebrating Thanksgiving with my US friends via Zoom this year was a weird experience. In my own family ‘bubble’ the turkey seemed to lack a bit of the savour of previous years; but at least it was Covid and chlorine-free.
As I toasted transatlantic buddies with a glass of Malbec – bought with my Glint card obviously – the chat turned to how this strange year has been for people. The US has had more than 21% of the world’s Covid cases and 18% of Covid-related deaths, a total of 258,000 so far. Many are mourning.
Thanksgiving was very unusual for most North Americans this year – about half of them down-scaled their celebrations, 70% of them staging a Thanksgiving with fewer than six people compared to 48% last year; at least whole-turkey prices were cheaper, by about 7% to $1.21 per pound, the lowest price since 2010, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Thanksgiving was started by the remnants of the 102 religious separatists who left England in 1620 aboard the Mayflower, and established a small and struggling economy in what became the US. In 1621, they held a celebratory feast to give thanks for having survived scurvy, starvation and other troubles, their survival aided in part by a Native American, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. It’s about sharing and demonstrating gratitude for what we have.
From the semi-spiritual to the more material. Today is ‘Black Friday’, when consumerism traditionally goes bonkers, when people show they want more, more, more. Last year, the biggest spenders in the US were millennials aged 24-35 who spent on average almost $450; American shoppers spent $5 billion in a single day. UK shoppers are expected to spend £750 million today. Retailers tempt consumers by holding out the prospect of sale prices, yet these so-called ‘sales’ this year are often around for longer than just a single day.
Consumer spending drives most economies, not least those of the US and that UK. Consumer spending – or the lack of it – is one reason why economies all round the world are in such a dire predicament.
Everyone likes to find a bargain. But the biggest bargain of this year may be the simplest – just to have survived the pandemic and the economic meltdown that has resulted. For which we should all give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving for yesterday, try not to go too ‘Black Friday’ crazy today, be prepared for Cyber Monday and I’ll see you next week with some exciting news about Glint it!.
Until next week,