Christmas will still be merry

STOCKING UP ON ORNAMENTS. Christmas is celebrated early in the Philippines, with decorations on display in stores as early as September. (SunStar photo/Arni Aclao)

IT WILL still be a busy Christmas shopping season for Filipinos this year amid high inflation, a top official from the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Cebu said.

PRA Cebu president Robert Go said local retailers foresee upbeat spending as Christmas approaches, especially among the beneficiaries of overseas Filipino remittances.

“It will still be a busy Christmas shopping this year. This will not slowdown, despite the problems we face,” said Go.

As soon as the “ber months” arrive, Filipinos start preparing for Christmas. The Philippines is touted as one of the countries in the Asia that celebrates Christmas as early as September, which is more than three months away from the actual Christmas month. This is the time of year when spending usually shoots up.

But while families of overseas Filipinos can take advantage of the weaker peso, Go said there could be a shift in the buying preferences among Filipinos.

With the high prices of basic commodities, Go said local consumers will most likely shift to cheaper alternatives compared to the premium ones.

He explained that there will be a segment in the market that will tighten their budget as higher inflation in the past months have affected their spending. But there will also be a segment that will stick to their usual spending habits.

Go noted inflation will make consumers replace branded products with generic products, or shift from premium to non-premium items.

“Inflation is (seen) to dampen spending for priority essential needs only. But one thing’s for sure, Filipinos will spend their 13th month pay,” he said.

Still celebrating

Entrepreneur Pamela Blanca Alonso said she will be more practical in her Christmas spending this year, knowing that prices of basic commodities the past months have gone up. As an example, Alonso said she will reuse her Christmas decorations instead of buying new ones. Or if she buys any, it would only be at a minimal cost.

“If in the past, one can manage to spend P10,000 for decor in 2016, maybe now, I can only spare P2,000 to P3,000 for that. I need to be more cautious with my spending,” said Alonso.

However, she noted that it won’t be Christmas if she fails to celebrate it over good food, nice decor and gathering with friends and family.

“Even if there’s financial difficulty now, as prices of basic commodities have increased, we can still spend at a minimal cost. If we can pull off a birthday celebration for ourselves, why not do the same for the birthday of Jesus? We need to be practical and tighten our spending a bit to cope with these challenges,” she added.

Janet Peroso, a wife of a seafarer, said she will still splurge for Christmas amid the high inflation.

“It only comes once a year and it’s the perfect time to celebrate it with my family, especially that we will be complete during that season,” said Peroso.

The Department of Finance yesterday said the Duterte administration is doing its best to tame inflation with an array of measures in place (see separate story, page 22).

Inflation jitters, however, have rattled the nation’s stock market. The Philippine Stock Exchange index lost 11.753 points to close at 7,093.34.


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