Never underestimate your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, even with a mutating virus afoot. Despite rising concerns over the omicron variant, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” not only shattered pandemic-era box office records; it became the third best opening of all time behind “Avengers: Endgame” ($357.1 million) and “Avengers: Infinity War" ($257.7 million). The Sony and Marvel blockbuster grossed a stunning $253 million in ticket sales from 4,325 North American locations, according to studio estimates on Sunday, also setting a record for the month of December. The web-slinger’s success couldn’t have come sooner for a movie business that has had a rollercoaster 2021 and could be headed for a difficult start to 2022 as the omicron variant of the coronavirus forces more and more event cancellations.
NEW YORK — Emarilis Velazquez is paying higher prices on everything from food to clothing. Her monthly grocery bill has ballooned from $650 to almost $850 in recent months. To save money, she looks for less expensive cuts of meat and has switched to a cheaper detergent. She also clips coupons and shops for her kids’ clothing at thrift stores instead of Children’s Place. For the holidays, she's scaling back on gifts. She plans to spend $600 on her three young children instead of $1,000, and she won’t be buying any gifts for relatives. “It’s stressful,” said the 33-year-old stay-at-home mother from Boardman, Ohio, whose husband earns $30,000 a year making pallets for stores. “You want to give it all to your kids, even though (Christmas) is about family. They still expect things. It is hard that you can’t give them what they ask for.” Retailers may be forecasting record-breaking sales for the holiday shopping season, but low-income customers are struggling as they bear the brunt of the highest inflation in 39 years.
LONDON — Britain’s main nurses’ union warned Monday that exhaustion and surging coronavirus cases among medical staff are pushing them to the breaking point, adding to pressure on the government for new restrictions to curb record numbers of infections driven by the omicron variant. The warning throws into stark relief the unpalatable choice Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces: wreck holiday plans for millions for a second year running, or face a potential tidal wave of cases and disruption. Many governments in Europe and the U.S. are confronting similar dilemmas over how hard to come down in the face of omicron, which appears more transmissible than the previous delta variant that itself led to surges in many parts of the world.