BEIRUT: It’s that time of the year again! The happiest time of the year, as some people often refer to it. Everyone is busy, either packing up to go spend their Christmas and New Years in the village with relatives and friends or packing up ready to travel abroad.
What all those have in common is standard holiday season shopping to loved and close ones.
Due to the potential economic problems that Lebanon has been facing amid political uncertainty, some have moved to less expensive methods of shopping and celebrating but are still splurging as the budget allows.
Eya Chebbi, Tunisian Journalism student at the American University of Science and Technology told Annahar she did all her holiday shopping during Black Friday last week. “I made good use of Black Friday and bought everyone gifts at cheaper prices.”
The kickoff to shopping season of Black Friday has become internationally famous for discounts.
Sandra Gharzeddine, a Public Relations student at AUST said “every Christmas my family and I would go to Dubai and spend a week there spending money without thinking twice about it. This year we won’t be going to Dubai.”
Local supermarket owners in Beirut have reported that thus far demand for Christmas-specific goods such as certain foods or consumer goods increases, has caused the demand curve to move outwards.
“Every year, I make up to three months worth of profit in one month - December” a local supermarket owner told Annahar. “Relatives visiting each other come stop at my store to buy chocolate boxes and biscuits. Housewives buy extra special preparations and foods and goods for the lavish holiday meals they cook. Kids stop by more often to buy delicious treats using holiday money they got from parents and relatives.”
Holiday season is good for the economy.
“I’m going to spend just as I usually spend” Maria Yaacoub, middle school teacher said. “Holiday season is a chance to express to our loved ones how much they mean to us. I won’t compromise that.”
Some have started working during holiday breaks to create extra cash to cover up for their heavy holiday spending.
“I’m helping my dad in his car accessories shop to gain some extra cash before New Years’” Sami Kanaan said. “My friends and I are going to Turkey over the holidays and I need the extra cash.”
Crowded shopping malls and centers have led to the creation of seasonal jobs for Lebanese youth.
Student Alaa Arid is currently working at ABC department store in Ashrafieh as a seasonal sales employee.
“I work for five hours a day during the holiday period, so it’s easy to fit them in with my hectic university schedule.”
Some parents have found it difficult to cut back on spending this year.
“My children are used to extravagant holiday celebrations at our house every year. With time, it has become difficult to break this ritual. I just can’t do it” said Aya Shokor, mother of five.
Locals often bargain with local shop owners about prices. More often than not, shop owners cut back a couple of Lebanese pounds from the original prices of goods.
“I’m not buying branded clothes this year as gifts. Instead, I think I’m just going to rely on local shops that provide a cheaper variety of clothes.”
Due to the Lebanese Diaspora, many families make use of the long holidays to meet up with relatives who live abroad.
“We usually fly first class to visit our cousins in the United States of America. This year, we have decided to fly second class and we won’t be staying in a hotel there. We’ll be staying in with them,” said Mohamad Ali, student at the Lebanese International University.
Some people believe in returning the holiday season to its less commercial roots.
“It’s not how expensive the gifts are, it’s how much love you have towards the person you’re gifting,” said Rowida Hammoud Interior Design student at the Lebanese University observed of the season, “This Christmas, I decided to gift those around me cheaper yet more sentimental gifts.”
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