To borrow an observation: Only in America could we spend one day giving thanks for what we’ve got and then turn around and spend the next three days buying more junk.
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday — before the pumpkin pie even settled, we were off to the stores again this year in search of the Season’s Biggest Deal.
This year, as many as 147 million people planned to shop this weekend’s sales, according to the National Retail Federation. Only one-third of adults surveyed by the group said they planned to definitely stay out of the stores.
The NRF expects holiday sales this year will top $586 billion. That’s a 4 percent increase over last year, which itself represented a 5.6 percent increase over the year before and will translate into somewhere between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal jobs.
If the group’s predictions are correct, that means we’re approaching 2007 holiday spending levels — the pinnacle of purchasing that predated the crash of 2008. The trade association calls retail “a daily barometer of the health of the nation’s economy” and fiscal cliff notwithstanding, it seems consumers are pretty confident there are rosier days ahead.
When I ran out for a few last-minute supplies on Thanksgiving Day, I got to talking with the clerk behind the counter. A recent hire, she was one of those unlucky retail workers stuck with a holiday shift. But she wasn’t complaining. The woman said it was her first time working in more than three years. Turkey dinner or no, you bet she was giving thanks.
Not everyone has been so lucky, though, as today’s editorial clearly shows. Again this year, the number of Iowa families who struggle just to put food on the table has risen, even as food banks struggle to keep their shelves stocked with much-needed supplies. Philanthropic groups worry that even though Americans plan to spend more this holiday season, they plan to give less to charity.
But just because we’re able to loosen our own tightened belts a bit, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that everyone has benefitted equally from this country’s long, slow economic recovery. After a few lean years, life is finally returning to normal for many Iowans, but not for all. It’s important that we make the next few weeks a record season not only of spending, but of giving.
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