Happy Thanksgiving to all! This is my second Thanksgiving in London and my first opportunity to reflect on this holiday in an economic standpoint, especially taking into account its impact on the US and the UK. This Investopedia article does well in explaining Thanksgiving and its link to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
This post is a very general discussion about certain points of Thanksgiving 2018 and if personal views are shared, they are my own and should not be attributed to CTaLE, UCL or any other organisation that I am associated with.
Every year for Thanksgiving, Americans make the trek back home often resulting in hours-long commutes. According to this Time article, compared to October, gas prices have fallen which helps those travellers embarking on their trips home. Although this technically means that Americans will be saving money, the Energy Information Administration has confirmed that gas prices this year are actually higher compared to November 2017. This year has also been predicted to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel period since over a decade with people driving at least 50 miles or opting to fly. My cousins who work in Los Angeles had to start their journey back to San Francisco at 3am on Tuesday to try and beat the intense traffic jams. This Twitter moment further captures LA’s traffic conditions on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Once the festivities, which includes turkey, pumpkin pie, cider and naps to recover from all the food, have subsided the madness that is Black Friday sets in. I remember when I was in high school, right at Friday 12am friends and family would gather together at chosen stores ready to run in for the deals. Now, Black Friday has been pushed earlier and earlier with some sales beginning a week before Thanksgiving, and lasting long into the following week. The days for literal “doorbuster deals” are no longer necessary. Black Friday has even spread to the UK (since the beginning of this decade) with large retailers participating. PWC’s article breaks down the effect Black Friday will have on the UK, particularly drawing attention to the fact that buyers are shifting towards shopping online rather than in store.
This is where the phenomenon of Cyber Monday comes into play. According to this Guardian article, Amazon’s biggest sales day in company history was on Cyber Monday with $6.59bn. This year, it has been extended to Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Week to capture the full benefits. However, higher sales numbers is linked to higher work demand. So much so that this year, Amazon workers from the US and all over Europe are protesting/going on strike against the work conditions they are put through. Furthermore, UK small businesses are combatting the sales through the Just A Card scheme to encourage people to buy from them in the holiday season.
I personally have not done much shopping (yet) and wish those who are, whether it be online or in store, good luck. Hopefully this post gives some insight to the effects of the Thanksgiving shopping craze, and now I’m off to have a friendsgiving meal!
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