The Christmas season has always been important for the economy. Stores, hotels and travel businesses usually make their money at Christmas time. But it is unclear that the holiday season helps other business industries. The health crisis has forced countries across Europe to shut down until early December to contain the spread of corona-virus. Governments are hoping to reopen their economies in time for Christmas. Some economists, however, wonder if it will do and eager. The question is especially important this year. There is a risk that reopening too early could hurt public health, economic growth and employment. The financial research firm Deloitte says the biggest European spenders on Christmas last year are those in Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. In Britain, December sales are usually around 12% of the yearly total. Economists say that helps retail businesses even if people buy less in January to recover from the December's spending. However, lower-priced Black Friday sales across Europe in late November have made December spending less important. The growth in online purchasing also makes it less necessary for some stores to stay open. German retail association HDE expects online sales to fill an increase of 1.2% over 2019. Some economists believe that even if people do not buy before Christmas, they will spend other things. Paul Donovan, is chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management. He said in his weekly blog not spending on drinks at a Christmas party translates into the purchase of new furniture. TV news often shows crowded stores with last-minute purchasers before Christmas. But there are other less obvious facts of the Christmas season, usually productivity drops as Christmas nears. Workers rush out to buy things or go to parties. One research company found that 25% of workers reported they do less work or try to avoid more work during the holiday season. There are even some economists who believe the act of buying gifts is bad for the economy. Yale economist Joel Waldfogel wrote a paper in 1993 called The Dead Weight-Loss of Christmas. He said, that when people pay a lot for gifts, especially unwanted gifts, that was like destroying their economic value. Economists continue to argue about this idea. However, few disagree that Christmas does have unintended and harmful effects on the economy from drunk driving accidents to increased paper waste. Information on new corona-virus cases in coming days will show if Europe can reopen, but for the economy, it may not make any difference. I'm Jonathan Evens.
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