|03 December, 2019

Do holidays boost the economy or hurt productivity?

For, consumer spending is the pivot for economic demand, which keeps firms in the green and encourages them to hire more to produce more

Image used for illustrative purpose. A woman is seen inside a store at a mall during the Black Friday sales in Caracas, Venezuela November 29, 2019.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A woman is seen inside a store at a mall during the Black Friday sales in Caracas, Venezuela November 29, 2019.

Reuters/Manaure Quintero

Welcome back from your short break. As most of us (especially our wallets) will be aware, this past Friday came gift-wrapped in a vibrant tone of colours - black, green, yellow and blue - and with the promise of fast (and free) home delivery. For those who took a staycation this long weekend, you'd have noticed the crew of delivery vans and bikes, almost requiring a dedicated lane of their own, elbowing past one another to meet and even beat their respective delivery deadlines. It is the holiday (read: shopping) season after all. What started with a drizzle on Singles Day on 11/11 turned into a torrent in a couple of weeks with the UAE National Day break nicely embracing the multicoloured Friday sale right until Cyber Monday and then some.

It wasn't all digital either - you could have walked into any mall or shopping plaza of your choice and it would have been tough to not notice the bright red-on-yellow 'Up To 90% SALE' banners tempting you to further loosen your already loose purse-strings. Even if one were a little under the weather (it's also the flu season, remember?), the pungs of alerts and text messages on one's mobile devices and the brochures hung on gate handles and slipped under the doors, not to forget the pestering by kids and spouses, meant that only the iron-willed remained unimpressed and emerged unscathed in fiscal terms.

That said, have you ever wondered if all the holidays in the month of November and early December resulted in a huge loss of productivity? Or if all that shopping we did and the cards we swiped at hotels and restaurants meant that the nuts and bolts of the financial machinery got the required grease to move in-synch again? Is the economy better or worse off for all these breaks? The jury is still out on how much did we collectively shell out this long weekend, but going by the traffic jams in mall parking lots and the queues to enter Global Village from either side of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, we did spend a pretty penny.

And that is good news. For, consumer spending is the pivot for economic demand, which keeps firms in the green and encourages them to hire more to produce more. Which means there's more money with more consumers to spend more - and so goes the virtuous cycle. What about the lack of productivity? Well, now that you're back, better clear that backlog of e-mails and pending workload so that that doesn't come back to bite us later in the month. So looking forward to the Christmas-New Year-Dubai Shopping Festival break!


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