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Trends in the e-commerce marketplace

As I write this, thousands of companies are under pressure to re-invent their businesses to adapt to the new normal. Products must be re-engineered to better suit home consumption, distribution channels must shift to direct deliveries, and brick and mortar retail outlets must morph into online stores. All these must be done in a matter of months or for as long as cash  runways lasts.

Understanding post-COVID consumer trends

In the pre-COVID world, eating out, shopping, and weekend getaways generally characterized the way of life of middle to upper income Filipinos. For the affluent few, investments in cars, art, and properties were par for the course.

The economic impact of the pandemic, in numbers

All around us, businesses are closing, millions are losing their jobs, and for the first time in decades, swaths of our population are entering poverty, not escaping it. The Wuhan virus has caused havoc to our economy and around the world. But how bad is the situation exactly? Through numbers, this piece describes the severity of the situation here and abroad.

Stories of Filipino frontliners in the US

Cecilia Yap-Banago was a registered nurse at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City. The 69-year-old mother migrated to the United States in 1970 and dedicated her life serving as a healthcare professional.

Seizing business opportunities during crisis

The pandemic is not exclusively a story of business failures. Many companies are doing exceedingly well during this period of crisis. Those whose businesses relate to sanitary products, healthcare products, drugstores, supermarkets, and e-commerce continue to enjoy unprecedented profits despite the economic downturn. Some enterprises are hardly affected. Those engaged in manufacturing, importation and trading as well producers of basic food products remain stable. For them, it is business as usual.

A tribute to Filipino frontliners in the US

President Duterte may be enamored by China and may make overtures towards Russia, but there is no denying, the trust and confidence of the Filipino people belong to the United States. This was validated in a recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Station which showed that Filipinos’ trust quotient towards China was at an abysmal -33 points while the US enjoyed a +72 point rating.

The way forward to recover and rebuild

With infection rates growing by a multiple of 2.2 times a month, it’s safe to say that our battle with the Wuhan virus will be long and painful. Its economic impact has so far been disastrous. With second quarter economic contraction plunging to an all time low of 16.5%, think-tanks agree that the economy will contract by at least 8% this year and joblessness will rise to 9 million.

The state of e-commerce in the Philippines

The Philippines has a consumer-driven economy where 72% of economic output is attributed to private consumption. For decades, Filipino entrepreneurs have benefitted from brick and mortar stores. But all that changed when the Wuhan virus struck. Overnight, bustling restaurants, crowded malls and busy stores were empty. Retailers today only realize 15% of their pre-COVID sales, on average.

The full economic impact of the virus

The full economic impact of the Wuhan pandemic is still unravelling. As we go from month to month, we are discovering that the ramifications are worse than we thought.

Is the Philippines getting its share of FDIs from China?

In the early days of the ECQ, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced that the economy could still eke out growth of .08%. A month later, it adjusted its forecast and predicted a contraction of -3.4. Last week, Moody’s Analytics said that the economy will likely contract more acutely at -4.5%. Meanwhile, 7.6 million Filipinos are now unemployed, five million more than in the beginning of the year. All these are happening amid the backdrop of a budget deficit which could reach 8.5% of GDP.

The winners and losers of working from home

Had it not been for the work from home (WFH) arrangement, government’s quarantine measures would not have been sustainable. Corporations and citizens would have insisted on going back to work to survive — and this would have caused a spike in infection rates. Without WFH, the economy would have collapsed in a matter of months. Thus, it could be said that the WFH arrangement saved the economy while acting as an important tool in combating the Wuhan virus.

What now for Philippine tourism?

The tourism industry is among the strong drivers of the economy. Before the onset of the Wuhan virus, tourism accounted for 12.7% of gross national product (GDP) or roughly $46.5 million worth of goods and services. Its hefty contribution to the economy was achieved on the back of 8.2 million foreign visitors and more than 120 million domestic travelers.

Entitled politicians are saboteurs

I was happy and rather optimistic when the Department of Transportation (DoTr) announced that it had rationalized bus routes and would establish dedicated bus lanes along the interior of EDSA.

Why the IATF’s strategy did more harm than good

British banking giant HSBC recently published its forecast for the Philippine economy and the outlook is bleak. After clocking-in a 0.2% contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, the bank forecasts a deep contraction of 7% in the second quarter, another contraction of 4.3% in the third quarter, and yet another shrinkage of 3.9% for the fourth quarter. This will bring the full year contraction rate to 3.85%. The last time the Philippines posted negative growth was in 1998.

The pandemic’s silver lining

Despite the damaging effects of the Wuhan virus on public health, the economy and private enterprises, it does come with a silver lining.

An appeal to Congress to pass CREATE

Thirty one leading business groups including the prestigious Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), GoNegosyo, and the Chambers of Commerce from the Americas and Europe recently signed a manifesto expressing their support for the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or the CREATE Law.

A republic made stronger by crisis

The prognosis for the economy is becoming progressively worse. Last month, our economic managers were hopeful that 2020’s gross domestic product (GDP) would expand by 2.5% on the premise that we are able to catch up on the second semester. Two weeks ago, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) adjusted its forecast, saying that the economy could no longer post positive growth and that we are now looking at a contraction of 2% to 3.4%.

The changing face of retail

THE RETAIL TRADE is among the hardest hit industries in this COVID crisis. The bloodbath has cut across all sectors -- from clothing to food, appliances to motor vehicles, electronics to gasoline. No sector is spared except for those relating to health, sanitation, and wellness.

A time to reboot the economy

Despite our fervent hopes for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the four to five percent range, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) announced last Thursday that it actually contracted by 0.02% in the first quarter. This was due to the combined effects of Taal Volcano’s eruption in January, the tourist travel ban in February, and the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March. This is the first time the economy contracted in 22 years.

We will survive

Last Wednesday, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez announced a $29.4-billion stimulus package to fight the negative effects of the coronavirus on the economy.

What constitutes ‘the new normal’?

Everyone is talking about “the new normal.” But what exactly is the new normal?

Breaking the vicious cycle of economic stoppage

Governments around the world have a conundrum. Should they order longer quarantine periods to flatten the pandemic curve even if it would mean a longer and deeper recession? Or should they shorten their quarantine periods at the risk of instigating a second spike in infections?

Consumer habits permanently changed

Two things are certain. First, the COVID-19 crisis will eventually come to an end. Second, humanity will forever be changed by this pandemic. Nowhere will this be more evident than in the way people consume goods and services.

The need to invest in soft power

This is alternative reading for those who need a break from corona virus-related news.

Of pandemics past and COVID-19’s economic impact

As mass hysteria over COVID-19 reaches its peak, it would be interesting to look at the history of pandemics and how much havoc they have wrought throughout the ages.

In retail, evolve or die

In the early 2000s, the rise of fast-fashion brands like Zara, Mango, H&M, and Topshop caused a bloodbath among traditional fashion retailers. Unable to compete in price, style turnover, and vastness of selections, brands like Nine West, Diesel, and The Limited either filed for bankruptcy or were absorbed by bigger firms. Years later, when fast fashion brands hit the Philippines, local clothing retailers such as Regatta, Tab, Monakiki, Tyler and many others were either bought-out or closed.

The winners and losers in POGO’s Demise

The crackdown on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) has begun. Last week, China announced that it would cancel the passports of Chinese nationals working in the POGO industry for crimes relating to telecommunication fraud.

What next for the Maynilad and Manila Water Company?

Contrary to what many believe, the concession agreement between the government and the two water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water Company (MWC), will not be amended despite threats from Malacañang to do so. It will stay the way it is until its expiration in 2022, said Emmanuel Salamat, the Administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). For the water consumers of Metro Manila, this means no significant changes in water services or rates for at least two years.

An unfair society

The Research Institute of Credit Suisse paints a grim picture of wealth distribution in the Philippines. According its latest Global Wealth Report, the Philippines...

The events that led to Al Vitangcol’s conviction

Last week, the Sandiganbayan convicted Al Vitangcol III, former general manager of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, of graft and for violating government procurement laws. Among the incorporators of PH Trams was Arturo Soriano, Vitangol’s uncle-in-law.

The Philippine’ Golden Age of Tourism

After decades of lethargic growth, the Philippine tourism industry is finally riding on strong tailwinds. From January to November last year, foreign tourist arrivals topped 7.46 million, which translates to 15.58% year-on-year growth. This is nearly four times the average global growth rate and 2.5 times more than the Asian average. Although whole year statistics have not yet been consolidated, it is almost certain that the country surpassed its 8.2 million foreign visitor target.

Why pick on Ayala and Metro Pacific?

In an official statement two weeks ago, the Department of Budget and Management declared that government had enough funds to respond to Taal Volcano’s eruption. Upon further inspection, I found that this is not the case.

Italian woes

Last month, my wife and I treated ourselves to a trip to Italy to watch Placido Domingo at the La Scala Opera House in Milan. Accompanied by another couple, we looked forward to immersing ourselves in the city’s old world grandeur for which the Opera is an integral part.

Hosting the 2030 Asian Games

Following the Philippines’ successful hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Olympic Committee announced its intention to bid for the 2030 Asian Games. Other countries vying for the hosting rights are Qatar, India, Thailand, Taiwan, and Uzbekistan. If successful, this would be the second time the Philippines would host the Asiad -- the first time being in 1954.

How the Philippines can emulate South Korea’s success

On Aug. 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender following its invasions of countries in the Asia Pacific region. Its colony in Korea was divided into two spheres, with the south administered by the United States and the north by Russia. The two Koreas existed with tension between them and this culminated in June 1950 when the North invaded the South. The two Koreas have been at war ever since.

Philippine tourism positioned for take off

The year 2019 will be a banner year for Philippine tourism. If we are to go by the trends from January to September, the Philippines is poised to surpass its 8.2 million visitor target, clocking in a growth rate of 14.37%. At this pace, we are likely to supersede the 12.5 million arrival target by 2022.

Credible military capabilities

On the Saturday nearest May 30, Spain celebrates its Armed Forces Day with much pageantry. This year, it was celebrated in the southern city of Seville with no less than King Philip IV and Queen Letizia headlining the ceremonials.

The world economy in the near future

Last week, the economic counsellor of the embassy of Spain, Pedro Pascual, briefed the members of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce on the prospects of the world economy from 2020 and beyond. We are headed for challenging times.

Going back to the dark days of the water crisis

Last month, residents of Metro Manila suffered another round of water rationing as water levels dipped in the city’s principal water source, the Angat...

PHL competitiveness: Two steps forward, one step back

Last week, we received the unwelcome news that the Philippines fell eight notches in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2019. From being among the most improved countries in 2018 with a 12-notch leap to 56th position, we slid to 64th place out of 141 countries this year. We are at the same level we were in 2012. While utterly disappointing, it serves as a wake up call to our policy makers.

Spanish beef!

Pending final clearance from the Department of Agriculture (DA), Spanish beef will soon be available for Filipino consumers to enjoy. It will compete head to head with beef imported from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan, all of whom have dominated the premium segment of the market. Spanish beef promises superior quality across its entire range of cuts and grades at more competitive prices. With more options and greater value, this development is a win for the Filipino consumer.

Maynilad and Manila Water’s Conundrum

Following the enactment of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 2007, the two water and wastewater services providers of Metro Manila, Maynilad and Manila Water Company (MWC), were given five years to connect the existing sewer lines of homes and commercial establishments to the main sewerage system of the city. Both companies failed to meet the deadline due to various reasons which I will explain later. Suffice it to say, the Supreme Court ruled against the two companies and slapped each of them with a P921.5 million fine, plus rolling penalties until the interconnection is completed.

Why emergency powers are needed to solve traffic

In my hands is a copy of the “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas.” Formulated by the Philippine government in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), this roadmap outlines the ways in which Metro Manila traffic can be properly addressed today, all the way to the year 2030.

Our ties with Mexico and its story of reinvention

At 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 16, 1810 in Dolores, Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo ordered the church bells rung as he gathered his congregation. There, he cried out against the abuses of the Spaniards and the many Criollos (wealthy Mexican mestizos) who oppressed the Mexican masses. He urged the faithful to revolt against Spain. That event, known today as “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores”), marked the start of Mexico’s 11 year struggle to be a self-governing republic. On Aug. 24, 1821, Mexico’s fight for independence came to a victorious end with the signing of the Treaty of Cordoba. Mexico considers Grito de Dolores as its spiritual day of Independence.

Export or fall deeper into debt

The country can fall into a debt crisis if exports don’t pick up. Here’s why...