The business of Christmas

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Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

THE longest Christmas celebration in the world without doubt can be found here in the Philippines. Although it “officially” starts in November, the Christmas spirit begins to dawn as early as September, the start of the “ber” months. We are not really sure what brought about the early celebration of the Christmas season here—how it started, who started it, in what era it started, and a lot of other questions that remain unanswered. All of these are queries that require no answer, considering the “catharsis” it affords us to express our local traditions and beliefs which reflect our religiosity. But beyond tradition and spirituality comes the commercial value that Christmas brings to our economic well-being.

This tradition of an extended Christmas season has created a lot of business opportunities locally, especially for entrepreneurial activities not commonly available in the first three quarters of the year. Hordes of people gather in shopping malls and in occasional and permanent bazaars and flea markets to buy goods and commodities as early as November or even at the start of the “ber” months.

Small entrepreneurs who rely on occasional or seasonal markets take advantage of buyers’ enthusiasm in this season of merriment. Big businesses likewise take a bite of this primetime of business expansion. Many individuals at this time of the year are generous and would not mind spending a cent or two more than the regular price just to get hold of commodities they associate with the holiday season.

It is not surprising therefore that the economic growth each year picks up considerably in the last quarter primarily because of consumer spending. Economic scientists and soothsayers would always predict an accelerated economic growth in the last quarter because of an anticipated increase in spending brought about by the holiday windfall (bonuses, 13th month pay, incentives, etc.). Such a phenomenon is a “no brainer” considering that everyone, even a non-economist, anticipates this to happen each year. Whatever shortfalls the economy may have suffered in the first three quarters of each year are most likely compensated by the upsurge in consumer spending and private investment in the last quarter of the year.
 
Hazards of consumer spending
Although it is acknowledged that vibrant consumer spending is a factor for growth, it is however hazardous when taken in the individual context. In the last month of the year when the height of holiday celebration commences, it becomes inevitable that celebration and merriment is accompanied by spending, excessive spending at that. Perhaps because the celebration comes only once a year, consumer spending is done with almost no limit, thereby giving rise to the more serious problem of deficit spending resulting in inflation and “dissaving.”


Unless curtailed or controlled by the individual himself, the upsurge in consumer spending in the last quarter, or particularly in the last month of the year, could create more problems than solutions if left unchecked by the concerned party.

Still on VP Binay’s dilemma
Although pressured by the Senate body to appear before them for investigation, it seems proper for the Vice President to stick to his decision not to attend the Senate hearing. In the first place, his appearance in the halls of the august chamber as far as the proceedings are concerned could do him more harm than good. As far as the perception of guilt is concerned, it won’t change a thing if he appears or not. As a matter of fact, his appearance might put the VP’s office in a bind and his personal character might be compromised because of the anticipated attacks he will get.

So it would be for the benefit of the VP’s office to maintain his current stance and let the people judge him according to the turn of events, rather than risk his reputation in a no-win situation.

For comments e-mail: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com.

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