Christmas around the worldDigital Editor
As Christmas is only a few sleeps away, we are all wrapped up (literally and figuratively) in the holiday spirit! Twinkling lights, Christmas decorations, mince pies, mulled cider, and jolly tunes surround us throughout the UK. Europe and America are just as immersed in the merriment with their own traditions from enjoying Panettone in Italy, decorating the tree on Christmas Eve in Germany, placing shoes by the fireplace for Pere Noel in France, or switching on the twinkling lights on houses in America. Although Christmas in Russia is celebrated on the 7th of January, we can’t help but wonder how their festive season will withstand their economic crisis. In mid-November, FOM pollster reported
that 45 per cent of Russians say the weak rouble has significantly impacted their lives. More people are affected as the survey was conducted when the rouble was 32 to the dollar, but it currently stands at 52 to the dollar. Disposable incomes, which are utilized during the holiday season, fell by 9.1% in October. The Wall Street Journal reports that holiday booking by Russian citizens are down by more than half as people are forced to cancel travel plans due to the weak rouble. Alas, there is positive news! In true Christmas spirit, there is hope for Russia in respect to the falling ruble. As a result, Moscow is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination for foreign travellers as one of the most affordable European cities. During the 2008 financial crisis, many European nations benefitted from cheaper tourism costs. For example, Argentina successfully reorganized its economy based on inbound tourism. Head of Moscow’s Committee on Tourism and Hospitality, Sergei Shpilko, notes that Southeast Asia, Middle East and Latin America are tough competitors, but Christmas package tours to Russia would be advertised in London at consumer-friendly prices. The highest amount of foreign tourists to Russia is from China with nearly 920,000 Chinese tourists from January to September 2014, a 6 per cent on last year. Japanese tourism to Russia increased by 4 per cent, while South Korean visitors to Russia skyrocketed to an astounding 57 per cent. Regarding the Asian countries, while a large part of the world is spending during this holiday season, how does the Asian market compare during this time of year? Christmas is not an official holiday in China and Japan, but due to commercialisation, Christmas is more widely celebrated in Asian cultures. Bloomberg reports, “Christmas retail displays are becoming increasingly common in China and other parts of the world that don’t traditionally observe the holiday […] aiming to get shoppers in Asia and the Middle East to catch the Christmas spirit — and open their wallets”. American retailers and department stores, such as Macy’s, Aeropostale and Saks Fifth Avenue are partnering with e-commerce companies Borderfree and Alipay to offer their Christmas specials to Chinese consumers. As for Western retailers located in China, such as Tesco and Carrefour, they are equally promoting the Christmas sales. The world’s largest listed jeweller, Chow Tai Fook, operates more than 2,000 outlets in China and is held its first Christmas promotions this year. However, the influx of online shopping of China means shopping centres are experiencing fewer visitors. Hong Kong-based Kerry Properties had a novel idea to raise footfall. Last year, they trailed a Christmas market at one of their malls, which was very popular. Hin Lui, Creative Services and Production Manager for Kerry Parkside in Shanghai, said, ““There is a big push for retail malls to innovate, and how to bring people in to spend money is to create an experience for them”. This is especially true this holiday season. Kerry Properties expanded their Christmas bazaars to two malls and to last the entire month of December. This year, the bazaars are more festive with traditional log-cabin-style stalls, weekend events, and classes on gingerbread baking, ornament decorating and wreath making. Live choirs and bands will entertain guests on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tom Gaffney, Head of Retail at Jones Lang LaSalle in Hong Kong, predicts a 5 to 10 per cent increase in sales due to newly introduced the Christmas shopping period in China As we gather with loved ones, admire the twinkling lights, indulge on mince pies, wrap (or more likely unwrap) presents, and sing jolly Christmas tunes it’s easy to see why the spirit of the Holiday season is catching on in countries that don’t traditionally observe this period for more reasons than potential economic growth.