Christmas: An Annual Economic Blessing to Guyana

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Christmas is typically a peak selling season for all forms of businesses in Guyana. Be it for the street vendors, small, medium or large scale businesses, sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In Guyana, the “Christmas shopping season” starts as early as October and radically increases three days before the December 25th holiday.
According to the Ministry of Finance, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season.
From an aerial view, Guyana during the Christmas season is exploding with life. The wide pavements are evidently too small to hold the busy shoppers. Hundreds of excited bargain hunters seem to spill into the streets, thereby competing with the heavily congested traffic for space as they all endeavour to get the shopping done in time for December’s main event.
The city is brightly lit and transforms into a joyous, buzzing, warzone as many try to zip in and out of as many stores as possible, looking for the best deals but more importantly the ideal Christmas gifts. Many things can be found at half price and even below, if you know where to head to in downtown Georgetown.
Zooming in on the business aspect of the Christmas season, it appears to be a world where everything is larger and more stupendous. The elaborate gifts of all types and for all ages are available, the new home appliances are displayed in larger quantities, and the season’s craftiest decorations are sure to leave you excited.
Business during this time of the year is music to the entrepreneur’s ears. Businessmen and women during this period in every aspect rake in big bucks. There are extravagant Christmas parties by some private as well as state entities that go all out on the most expensive alcoholic beverages and divine delicacies at the most posh entertainment spots in Guyana. The club owners are also guaranteed to make millions during this time as parties throughout the December period are held almost daily as opposed to only on the weekends.
The boutiques noticeably change their marketing strategy too as the ensembles they offer are clearly designed to suit the Christmas parties held within the second week of December and the celebrations of two other holidays; Old Year’s Night and New Year’s Day.
Another interesting point of note is that contrary to what traditionally takes place in other nations where persons have to work on Christmas Day, it is different in Guyana. Here, Guyanese are allowed to stay home and relish in the love and homely feeling this time of the season brings. As a result of the nation’s reverence and appreciation of how important this aspect of the season is, it is understood that most persons, if not all, are not required to turn out for work. Guyanese also enjoy the day after Christmas which is known as Boxing Day. It is a holiday traditionally celebrated in observance of the era when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses or employers. Compared to other territories regionally and internationally, the majority of Guyanese are not required to work on this day. The same principle is applied to the celebration of Old year’s Night and New Year’s Day locally.
In Guyana, Christmas is a time for festivity and closeness of family. It is a time when nostalgic adults remember what it was to have the innocence of childhood. It is taken so seriously that the Christmas celebrations begin months before December 25th. The soaking of fruits in wine and rum is the earliest preparation. Some may soak fruits a year in advance. The fruits commonly used for signature Guyanese delicacies such as black cake include various forms of cherries and prunes. Sorrels are also soaked to make tasty beverages. During this time, the local vendors also make a mind-blowing profit. Many of them sing praises for this time of the year.
The home is placed in order from weeks leading up to this season. Repairs, painting and other cosmetic improvement are done.
But the Christmas season is arguably one of the most important holidays to the economy as it even serves to stimulate employment for various small, medium and large scale businesses.
The holiday season is usually the best time for business. Some businessmen have said that without the Christmas season shopping, their businesses would not have been able to survive.
Christmas spending brings most businesses out of the ‘red’. There is no question that spending is going to soar as we get closer to Christmas. There is absolutely no doubt that many will want to let their children enjoy a glorious Guyanese Christmas; enjoying good food in abundance, toys and other gifts.
For the adults, gifts such as clothing, jewelry and so are always in high demand and the highest selling items on the market. And not forgetting the Old Year’s Night “get ups”. Of course for those who have huge levels of liquidity, the foreign brand name food, drinks, clothing and so on will be in effect.
Interestingly, Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce in Guyana as almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease activity more than any other day of the year.

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