As the holiday season approaches, there are many questions on how this holiday will look socially and economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has shown a significant loss following a few months of growth prior to the pandemic. Due to high levels of unemployment and potential health risks of indoor shopping and gatherings, it can be anticipated that we will not see an economic boom this holiday season. Purchases of gifts will lower due to limited budgets and food shopping will not see growth due to a lack of parties and large gatherings.
The Risk of Holidays and Low Spending Money During COVID-19
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the risk that upcoming holidays, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, have on the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing, mask wearing and indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged, and this poses the question as to how people across the globe will choose to celebrate. If we examine past major holidays that were celebrated globally, such as Easter, we saw a rise in utilizing virtual and outdoor settings rather than indoor gatherings involving food. As these trends will continue over the next months, a decline in global food sales is likely as well.
The holiday season is also a time of a global rise in commercial shopping. According to a study done by Accenture, consumers reported that they plan to budget $540 for holiday spending this year, which is $100 less than the average budget of 2019. This comes as no surprise, as over 305 million workers globally have experienced unemployment since April. As a result of less spending on commercial products, specifically in the United States, manufacturers across the globe are subject to business losses rather than gains that are usually experienced during these coming months. When consumers are limiting spending this season on themselves and loved ones, we also must consider the limits in philanthropy and donations for those living in poverty during this time.
Aiding the World’s Poor During the Holidays
The holidays represent a time of giving for many. When looking over the past decade, charitable donations raise up to 42% during the months of November and December. However, as people across the globe are cutting their budgets on the spending for their families and friends, it is likely that some households will be unable to donate as much as last year.
The holiday season is a difficult time for the world’s homeless, due to feelings of loneliness, approaching harsh weather, and overpopulation in major cities. Philanthropic actions and donations toward those living in poverty during the holiday season often help them get through this challenging time. Unfortunately, it appears that there will be much less assistance for those in need due to people battling their own unemployment and difficult circumstances as a result of COVID-19.
However, charitable organizations that are frequently frontrunners in assisting the world’s poor have recognized the challenges of this season. The Salvation Army International has reported seeing a 155% increase in assistance requests this year, and as a result, the organization will begin collecting holiday donations prior to the beginning of November. Also, the U.K. government is implementing plans to help food insecure families feed their children with free school meals during the months of October through December. Financial insecurity is expected to be high during these times due to holiday expenses, and the U.K. government has recognized an avenue in which they can assist families in making sure their children are properly fed, while still being able to enjoy the holidays.
Overall, this holiday season will present challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic effects. Globally, we have seen the world adapt to economic changes, and the work of charitable organizations will allow us to adapt and assist those in need during a holiday season that will look significantly different.
– Evan Coleman