Across the United States, recession-hit shoppers have been flocking to recession-hit shops on the day which traditionally marks the beginning of the pre-Christmas spending season.
They call the day-after-Thanksgiving “Black Friday,” a term arguably coined by taxi drivers to describe the traffic chaos as bargain-hunters choke the roads. But with a deep recession looming this year, the term has a new resonance. Shops have been discounting prices by up to 70 per cent and opening early – some even opened on Thursday’s holiday itself – in a desperate attempt to wring as much as possible from shoppers’ wallets.
Americans cut spending last month by the biggest amount since the 2001 recession, and adjusted for inflation, stores have endured lower takings for five months on-the-trot. Only Wal-Mart has bucked the trend. Traditionally concentrating on low prices, it is the only Dow Jones retailer to have risen in value this year.
The shoppers did turn out in force. But hit by unemployment, or the fear of it, many already say their Christmas budgets are less than last year.