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Eat, shop, give thanks in US

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Eat, shop, give thanks in US


In an annual custom, the American president pardons the traditional centre-piece of the Thanksgiving holiday, a turkey. Two this year, named Cobbler and Gobbler, are being allowed to live instead of ending up on a plate. They’ll retire to a nice farm in Virginia.

These may be lean times for many American families but they don’t want to miss the traditional dinner. Nearly 45 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving in the US, the vast majority raised on industrial farms and sold for the equivalent of about two euros forty (€2.40) per kilo.

Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas shopping season, and retailers are wondering what this one will be like.

Analysts expect holiday shopping sales to grow 3.5 percent this year (down from 3.7% last year and 3.8% in 2010). This third quarter saw sales slow down, so there are retailers that have adjusted the start time of the traditional Black Friday sales event earlier: to this Thursday evening.

A recent survey said 23 percent of consumers plan to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day – up from 17 percent last year. Black Friday is said to have got its name because of the crush of the crowds, or because retailers do well (black ink meaning profit for them).

The “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims – the early settlers – after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. Their feast lasted for three days.

Our correspondent Stefan Grobe, in Washington DC, said: “Consumer confidence rose to a five-year high in November, as the job market is slowly improving and home prices are up. But as Americans approach the holiday-shopping season they are worried that they will soon have less money in their pockets, if no deal is reached over the fiscal cliff by the end of the year.”

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