Tomorrow (November 24) is the popular Thanksgiving Day in USA. Observed on the fourth Thursday of November, it is a much awaited holiday. It also kind of sets off the holiday season of the winters that ends with the celebrations of New year.
Thanksgiving Day has its roots in settlers (pilgrims) in Plymouth celebrating a feast after the successful harvest that season. That was in 1621. But the Thanksgiving has continued and today it is an occasion to express thanks and gratitude to one’s own blessings to life and opportunities and one’s beliefs in general. Thus, rightly so, Thanksgiving Day is the occasion to give alms and do charity. This is the day for people to come together as families and count the blessings and celebrate the life together. Thanksgiving Dinner thus is considered a very special feast.
Thanksgiving and food go together. After all, supper is an occasion to meet, share and celebrate. Amongst all the food and beverages, Turkey is the unifying theme. Turkey is served on this day as a mark of Thanksgiving. How so ever painful it may sound, the stark reality is that Thanksgiving comes at the altar of turkeys. They are sacrificed so that we can celebrate thanksgiving. I read somewhere that 88 % Americans eat turkey on this day, according to a survey conducted by American Turkey Association. Looking at sheer numbers, 44 Million turkeys are ‘enjoyed’ on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day stands to symbolize a very beautiful human sentiment: Thankfulness in general and gratitude in particular. That is why it so bothers me to see how such a humane expression is oblivious to the cruelty that carries along with!
Will we ever observe a Turkey-less Thanksgiving Day?
After all, when turkey can get a Presidential Pardon, why not a Public Pardon?
Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.
The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.
Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.
The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.
The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.
Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.
Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.
Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.
El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.
He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”
El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.
After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.
Maritime border agreement
El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.
Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.
Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital. He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)
Created 14 years ago, Cyber Monday, the online shopping holiday the Monday after Thanksgiving, seems like a relic from a different digital era.
Cyber Monday gained popularity as a day for eye-popping online sales, coming three days after Black Friday, traditionally the busiest day of the year for brick-and-mortar stores.
At the time, digital shopping was still new for many. Cyber Monday’s pitch was to get mall-weary U.S. consumers to use their workplace computers and employers’ internet connections to keep America’s holiday shopping frenzy going — online.
Today, online stores don’t really need the help of a special U.S. shopping day as they once did, retail experts say. Each year, digital sales slowly but surely eat into a bigger chunk of traditional store sales than they did a year earlier. Shopping on mobile phones is growing fast, particularly among younger consumers. Whether it be for smartphones, authentic watches or even other electronics, people usually prefer online shopping over physical shopping.
Now the entire Thanksgiving weekend is known by some retail experts as the Cyber Five. In one recent survey, 54 percent of U.S. consumers said they would do most of their holiday shopping online, according to The Washington Post.
“This Cyber Monday we will see more and more sales,” said Mark Lewis, CEO of Netalico, an e-commerce consulting firm. “More and more people will migrate to shopping online than shopping in stores.”
Online shopping pros, cons
Online shopping can be convenient and fast but also tedious and impersonal.
In-person shopping can be more visceral, but it also means battling crowds, parking hassles and long lines at the register.
“I prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores because I’m someone who likes instant gratification,” said Cortney DeMello, a shopper and retail worker. “I want to be able to walk in, take things out and leave with them.”
Retailers and shoppers alike are increasingly blending their digital and in-store experiences.
Tucked in an alley off a main shopping area in San Francisco, Re:Store, where DeMello works, offers clothing and jewelry that are mostly available online and have become popular on Instagram.
“Our slogan is ‘for people who like touching things,’ because it’s all these Instagram brands that you could shop in real life,” she said.
Another store, B8ta, sells electronics and other products in a showroom at a time when such merchandise increasingly is purchased online.
“This is a retail store where we focus on showing off products primarily found online,” Jake Cardin, a merchandise manager with a B8ta store, said.
If a B8ta shopper likes a digital translator but buys it from Amazon on Cyber Monday, that’s OK for B8ta. The store shares its data with the companies behind the products.
Cameras in the ceilings and over the doorways measure the number of bodies in the space, giving companies information about how anonymous shoppers spent time with their products.
Technology in shopping
Cyber Monday is a time for many online stores to try out new technology, retail experts say. Some stores such as Ikea, the furniture chain founded in Sweden, use augmented reality so a shopper can see what a chair might look like in their living room.
Chat bots, preprogrammed online assistants, answer shoppers’ questions in a breezy demeanor.
“It’s not human, but they’ve been able to emulate a human so well and provide so much information to that bot, it gives the customer a very good experience if they have questions about shipping or returns,” Lewis said. “Sometimes you can’t even tell it’s a chatbot at first.”
During Cyber Monday, chatbots and deep price discounts aim toward a single goal: getting consumers to look and eventually click “buy.” (VOA)
The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Black Friday is viewed as the start of the holiday shopping season, a time when U.S. retailers rake in a significant portion of the year’s profits.
Many stores offer deep discounts to attract customers, and shoppers often line up early for a chance to grab a great deal before supplies run out.
“I think it is a very good sales gimmick,” says James E. Schrager, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “And what’s been happening for a few decades now is that retailers are very worried about when they get the customer into their store for this huge seasonal buying season. And they know it comes and goes very quickly … so this is a very good idea, so that they make sure they get their time — that is, the customer’s time — in their store to show off what they have.”
Macy’s, the department store, is believed to be the first retailer to advertise after-Thanksgiving Day shopping during their Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in 1924. Black Friday shopping grew more popular in the 1930s.
“Black Friday was a way to make sure that, for the season, they would make their number,” Schrager says. “ ‘Make their number,’ in the retail business, means sell more than you did last year. So every retailer loves to grow. Every retailer wants to get bigger and have better market share than it had the year before.”
Legos, cameras and a high-end backpack were among the hot online searches going into Black Friday 2019, according to Google, the online search engine. But where people will actually shop on the day after Thanksgiving isn’t clear.
“I can’t speak necessarily specifically to that because, of course, you don’t necessarily know what any one person is doing,” says Molly VandenBerg, a Google trends expert. “When we look at search behavior, people do certainly come to Google to search for things like where to buy a particular item.”
Schrager says online shopping hasn’t diminished Black Friday’s significance to the nation’s brick-and-mortar retailers.
“I think it’s more important than ever,” he says. “Online retailing is new, it’s new and it’s newsy. But if you look at the numbers … 89 percent of everything bought new is sold in regular stores.”
Online sales accounted for just 11.2 percent of total sales in the third quarter of 2019 — the months of April, May and June — according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Over the past 10 years, there’s been a little under 1 percent growth per year in online retailing.
Online shopping sales are expected to grow 18% this year, according to a recent Deloitte holiday retail survey.
The same survey finds that nearly two-thirds of shoppers plan to look online for gift inspiration. However, more than half of the consumers surveyed still plan to head into the store to see and touch a product before purchasing it.
But there are other ways to incorporate technology into the holiday shopping season.
“If you’re heading out into the stores, you might want to know how crowded they’re expected to be before you get there,” says VandenBerg, the Google trends expert. “And you can do this with the ‘Popular Times’ feature. If you’re looking at a particular store, or even like a grocery shop, you would be able to see an estimate of how busy we anticipate it would be, or how long you might wait.” (VOA)