J. Smith-El Hispano
PHILADELPIA — The city’s 93rd annual Thanksgiving Day parade was the beneficiary of autumn-like temperatures and cloudless skies, Thursday, as hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the JFK Boulevard and the Franklin Parkway to watch the nation’s oldest holiday parade officially mark the opening of the holiday season.
Besides the innumerable marching bands, the parade included a colorful array clowns, Sesame Street and Disney characters, including the Cookie Monsters, Scooby Doo , a Fireman and Bugs Bunny. With appreciative cheers for the steering attendees who obliged requests to ‘spin-it,’ the popular balloon characters bounded their way through an impressive crowd and towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In addition, other notable guests featured in the parade were, Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard; Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler; and Justin Guarini of American Idol” and Frenchie Davis of “The Voice.” But they were all overshadowed by the appearance of a regal Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus who triumphantly closed the event.
During the Black Friday weekend, retailers could rightfully boast of drawing record crowds of shoppers -estimated at more than 247 million. Besides validating the exceptionally early opening gambit, the customers were eager to spend and over the extent of the Black Friday weekend total spending reached a record level of $59 billion.
According to the research firm Biginsight, the number of Black Friday weekend shoppers rose by 9.2 percent, as the average shopper spent $423, an increase of 5% over sales in 2011.
The Walmart Store on Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia, with the exception of one minor altercation over a television, was described as “very busy” from the 8:00 pm Thanksgiving day opening until Friday morning, according to one Walmart Manager.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)union led a demonstration of 70 to 80 protesters outside Walmart’s entrance, chanting their demand that the store “Pay our workers a living wage.”
Walmart CEO Bill Simon expressed pride in his workforce, saying, “The work of our associates is even more impressive when you consider they served approximately 22 million customers.”
The prevailing assumption that shopping online and Cyber Monday are environmentally friendly was belittled by Jerry Storch, the CEO of retailer Toys R’ Us. Mr. Storch contends that shopping online is “very ungreen.”
Arguing that Cyber Monday and online shopping is a trendy fad, Mr. Storch said, shoppers were just “enraptured” by “how cool it is,” and that there is little difference in the environmental impact of differing modes of shopping.
A spokesman for Amazon.com disagreed, countering that “Online shopping is inherently more environmentally friendly than traditional retailing. The efficiencies of online shopping result in a greener shopping experience than traditional retailing.”
Jason Mathes of the Environmental Defense Fund suggested that “in urban settings” where “stops are closer together” shopping online may be more environmentally friendly. But it’s “less true” for online purchases made in rural Connecticut, which he contends is “hardly the green way to shop.”
Mr. Mathes says the greenness of online shopping depends upon a wide variety of factors, including the type of vehicles used, the distance driven, the number of products per shipment, and the environmental cost of the packaging.
The Logistics Research Center at Heriot-Watt University performed a carbon audit of conventional versus online shopping in 2009. The study concluded that neither home delivery nor conventional shopping has an absolute advantage in terms of carbon footprint, online shopping is likely to generate less (carbon) than the typical shopping trip.”