But not everybody is lucky to have spare money for celebrations this Christmas. A lot of people are suffering from the sting of the hard economy. Let’s take a glimpse at how businesses and individuals are trying to cope with the situation.

Impact to businesses

Philip Canuto of Island Florals & Gifts said sales for flowers have suffered drastically this month.

“I don’t know what’s happening because we used to have brisk sales every December. Christmas is one of our peak months but with half the month already gone, there is not much activity in sales yet,” Canuto said.

He said people seem to be holding on to whatever money they have.

“It’s so far from the past years where sales start to soar as early as October or November. Maybe one factor is that the people are still waiting for their tax rebates so they can have extra money,” Canuto said.

Sales at E-Center, Saipan’s outlet for computer consumables like printer cartridges, toners, and other services, have also plummeted. E-Center manager Bernie Mabalot told the Variety that sales have dropped drastically in this holiday season, unlike the past years.

He said his establishment enjoyed brisk sales during the processing of the CW applications as customers came for printing needs but now, it is back to “survival” level.

“Times are really hard, and we feel the sting tremendously leaving us with no choice but lay off personnel,” he said.

Business for freight forwarder LBC went down this month compared to the traffic of businesses especially in box delivery in October and November.

Manny Lucas of LBC Susupe said that on average, they ship two containers of boxes to the Philippines, consisting of almost 400 boxes a month.

“December is usually a slow month for us because people send their Christmas gifts early — October and November for their families to get the boxes in time for Christmas,” Lucas said.

As most businesses are suffering, some breaking even, others said they are doing fine.

A staffer of Ebisuya Inc. in Susupe said sales have been fine for bakery and groceries this month.

“We are expecting a surge of orders in cakes and other products as the Christmas and New Year week approaches,” the staffer said.

For ASKS Beauty Salon in Garapan, the economic crisis is no hindrance for people spending money for personal grooming.

Beautician Sharmaine Casquero said that they have their hands busy with the increasing number of people that come in for beauty treatments each day this month.

“We have so many customers coming in to have their hair and nails done, and we are expecting more customers next week as more parties come up,” Casquero said.

Coping with the crisis

Pacific Islands Club web/Russia/CIS marketing manager Elly Stoilova said she still has to buy gifs.

“Christmas is one of the few times during the year when we can show our love and appreciation to other people, especially those that are abroad. A little gift with a few warming words mean a lot!” she said.

Stoilova is planning to purchase toys for a couple of toy drives in order to help those less fortunate.

“In order to stretch my budget, I have cut supporting some of my hobbies. A second part time job or additional projects are also a good way to make some extra money,” she said.

Former CNMI press secretary Charles Reyes gives one helpful tip to stretch your budget:  online shopping.

“Local consumers would do well to shop at amazon.com, Walmart.com, zappos.com, Jr.com, jcp.com, among other online retailers who ship to the CNMI. There are many, and the savings are significant,” Reyes said.

Saipan resident Brian Kendall said “there is NO Christmas this year, not with this economy.”

“We will celebrate Baby Jesus’s birthday but there is no money for Christmas celebrations,” Kendall said. The high cost of everything like utilities has used whatever cash that could have been allocated for Christmas celebration.

Not everyone thinks that money or the lack of it is the deciding factor to have an enjoyable Christmas.

Northern Marianas College Student Engagement, First-Year Experience, and Learning Community programs manager Geri Willis said for her, the holidays should be filled with traditions and meaning, shared with family and friends.

“Gifts of love and time are more important,” she said.

IT&E marketing coordinator Brad Ruszala said while money doesn’t dictate the amount of love or appreciation he has for his family, the current economic situation has altered the way he shows it.

“For instance, instead of taking my wife out for a nice dinner on the town I’ll take up shop in the kitchen to make her a fancy meal, light some candles and open a nice bottle of wine. A romantic night at home means just as much to her, so it’s a win all the way around,” Ruszala said.

He cited another example like how he was saving some money for a couple of items he really wanted throughout the year and was all ready to buy them —  until he saw his wife’s post on Facebook about her not being in the Christmas spirit because they were both broke.

“I took the money that I had and surprised her by hanging some lights around the house and bringing home a Christmas tree while she was out. The smile on her face was well worth waiting a little longer for those items,” Ruszala said.{jcomments off}

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