To say that the pandemic has changed the way Filipinos ring in the holidays would be an understatement. But same as last year, the colorful lights have been lit and the festive decors have been propped up. Though we’re all uncertain about what this year’s Christmas season holds, our natural optimism still shines through – many of us will be Zooming our family Noche Buena this year!
Let’s take a look at how the picture’s changed this Christmas, and how we’re all adjusting to the new-normal-induced holiday season.
1. Rise of entrepreneurship
While community lockdowns have shuttered several businesses and resulted in loss of jobs, Filipinos were quick to pivot and became home-based online entrepreneurs. In a display of grit and resilience, from only 1,700 registered online businesses in the first quarter of the year, the figure ballooned to 75,000 as of September.
Surprisingly, remittances from overseas Filipinos have continued to increase, surpassing last year’s pre-pandemic levels. The government has also committed to distribute P13 billion in cash aid to displaced formal sector workers and repatriated migrant workers as well as informal sector workers through an emergency employment program.
2. More thoughtful Christmas shopping
Lining up Christmas stockings while saving a little for the uncertain times ahead is certainly a challenging task for most Filipinos. But recent market studies have shown that while the celebrations may be toned down, consumers remain ready to spend, especially for meaningful and pragmatic products or services.
People are giving gifts they buy more thought, according to Swasti Sarna, Pinterest insights manager. While holiday searches usually begin in the middle of the year, these started as early as April this year, or a month after the pandemic was declared.
Top searches in Pinterest were for “personalized Christmas gift ideas” and “sentimental gifts.” “People are just looking for something to look forward to. It’s a really tough time for everybody, but the holidays are always a really fun time and just spread a lot of cheer,” Sarna said.
3. Less store-bought, more homemade
Homemade gifts and home-cooked food will be common during the holiday season as consumers try to stretch their budget, global data analytics firm Nielsen said in a recent report.
What is essential is now also festive. Nielsen said the pandemic has redefined holiday spending and gift-giving etiquette. The list of recipients might also be considerably shorter to include only the people who truly matter and with whom we have meaningful relationships.
4. Safe and inclusive digital transactions
Digital payments and online platforms have become more ubiquitous during the lockdown. Shoppers now take home deliveries for granted, increasingly buying essentials and other goods online via shopping portals like Lazada, Shopee and MetroMart. What used to be a necessity in a time of quarantine has become a mainstay for shoppers, even after movements have loosened up in certain parts of the country.
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, there was a “growing preference for digital transactions” as these were viewed as safer and more convenient. The increase in digitization also promoted financial inclusion, the Central Bank said, especially for unbanked Filipinos who have become empowered with financial access.
5. Real estate as safe haven investments
Certain investments remain safe havens during uncertain times. The real estate sector, for example, continues to enjoy strong investor confidence and has been ranked as the third safest investment next only to gold and deposit certificates.
Real estate can be even more rewarding with a long investment horizon. In 1978, for example, Ayala Alabang property cost P230 per square meter (sqm), but values grew at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 to 17 percent through several recessions and recoveries. Today, that Ayala Alabang lot is worth up to P110,000 per sqm.
Avida Land has affordable, right-sized cuts with easy financing terms available. Avida’s developments in the provinces offer the best value for your long-term investment: consider Alviera in Pampanga and Nuvali in Laguna.
Filipinos may be celebrating Christmas differently this year, just as the rest of the world is adjusting to the unprecedented pace and scale of disruption brought about by the pandemic. A lot remain anxious and cautiously optimistic, but these only serve to highlight the truly important things and the truly relevant people in our lives.