What The Hell Happened to Shopping in 2020?


Ah yes. You really needed that vegetable peeler and weird air plant. And the peeler seller and the garden merchant really wanted to offload their stocks. So this is what happened: Even if the hellish year crippled the exchange of goods, shutting down stores and malls to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, retailers and consumers found ways to keep the greasy wheels of shopping spinning.  

As noted by Mercedes Lopez Vargas, co-chairman of upscale bazaar Artefino, the most notable moves of pandemic shopping include doing everything online, focusing on feel-good home stuff, and being green (green as in eco-friendly). In short, you still got that veggie peeler, terrarium plant, or whatever little joys that made this unbelievably stressful moment in humanity bearable (and proved, as well, how shopping is never frivolous). 

Below, all the big moves in shopping that you should be thankful for.

Retailers made a mad scramble to go online.

Photo by courtesy of SSI.

Retailers that had not yet put up a viable e-commerce site before things hit the fan fast-tracked their plans to put up that portal. You only have to look at one of the biggest fish in the local shopping scene to see how the pandemic led to innovation: SSI, the universe of luxury and lifestyle brands reportedly created its online hub in 18 months and launched the glittering trunc.ph in November. 

Of note, Trunc is the first website in Southeast Asia to house luxury brands, which, when initially presented with the multi-brand concept, were not convinced. It would be the intimate shopping experience that would lead Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo to join the site. We were already heading into a world where we shop from our beds and then wait patiently for the goods to arrive at our doorstep. This year just brought us to the future faster.

More: SSI Opens the Slickest Online Hub for its Universe of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands

You also made that mad scramble online shopping. 

Photo by Unsplash.
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Raise your hand if you received a video call from grandpa, who, at nine in the morning, needed to know how to add his credit card details to a shopping site.

This year, loads of people from all ages and backgrounds, took the plunge and bought their first purchase at an online shop. And after that first buy (maybe something that they did not consider buying through a screen before), they got over their fears or liked the experience enough, so continued to buy online. Even people who deign to shop via a website because they value the in-store experience were forced to do so, especially if they wanted their precious goods now. 

E-commerce sites experienced a boom.


As we shopped from our beds, Lazada, Shopee, and Zalora thrived, growing in both sellers and buyers. Lazada, which diversified its offerings to include groceries and essentials at the start of the lockdown, reports how it now has 100,000 sellers and millions of buyers. You most probably joined the three platforms’ same-digit mega-sales (9 9, 10, 10, 11 11, 12 12). In the first hour of its 11 11 sale, Lazada sold three million items. What were you buying? Mobile phones, pajamas, groceries, and cleaning supplies.


More: Kathryn Bernardo Reveals The No-Regret Purchases She Bought at Lazada

You are buying a lot of face masks.

Photo by Fino.

Because you need it (and will get into all sorts of inconveniences and possibly even coronavirus) without it, the face mask has become one of the most shopped items of the year. There were banig masks, sports masks, copper masks, Korean masks—so many masks. Style labels such as Dior, Adidas, Levi’s, and more used their resources to produce, instead of a shirt or pair of jeans, protective clothing like face masks. Likewise, local companies such as Bayo and Fino created face masks, too, with the latter designing a reusable leather mask that is chic and slightly sexy.

More: Fino's Leather Face Masks Are Crazy Cool

You are choosing earth-friendly products.

Photo by Unsplash.

The declining state of the planet is another problem that companies have been paying attention to. Amid the background of the coronavirus, L’Oreal Group declared a 10-year roadmap to reduce its environmental impact and tasked Garnier to lead the charge. In the Philippines, the beauty brand has already adopted sustainable packaging (honeycomb packaging, cassava bag) and in-store materials, as well as launched recycling stations for plastic sachets.

Meanwhile, more shoppers are asking the right questions: What is the environmental cost of this shirt? How much water was used in producing it? What kind of packaging does it come with? Buying a product that does less harm to the environment will help solve the crisis that will soon arrive—if people don’t start doing something about it right now.

More: Why This Global Company Is Focused on Fixing the Planet Right Now

You’re sprucing up your interior spaces.

Photo by Artefino.

You’ve spent a very long time—six months!—in your personal space, which made you think of sprucing up the (bleak) joint with home buys from online stores. Artefino, the yearly bazaar that has also shifted to an online portal (shopartefino.com), offers, apart from amazing fashion goods, artisanal pieces for the home such as weave planters and buri baskets. Something that might interest you: this wooden laptop cooler for your work-from-bed situation. 

Other home finds, apart from all those plants you’ve adopted, are scented candles that signal calm and relaxation. The cool ones are from Aesop.

More: How the Upscale Artefino Fair Adapted to the Tempestuous Mood of Pandemic Shopping 

Malls beef up their personal shopper systems

Photo by Warren Espejo.

Ayala Malls has Ana, Robinsons Mall has Robbie and Rosie, Festival Mall has Nic, and The SM Store has… Call to Deliver. Whatever they’re called, these personal shoppers are here for people who prefer to do their shopping another way: with the help of person who will roam the malls for you, maybe show you the item itself via a video call, and then pack them up nicely for delivery. You can also pick it up. Curbside pick-up points are a thing now. These are some of the many ways you can get your hands on the goods. 


More: How Do Personal Shoppers Work in Different Malls?

Luxury brands are getting into alternative shopping experiences, too.

Photo by Grand Seiko.

Luxury brands can be resistant to big changes, but now they are budging... a bit. For example, Grand Seiko, the premium counterpart of the Japanese watch brand, opened its online boutique this month, so you can get your hands on its limited-edition 60th-anniversary models without going to the shop.  

Those who have not opened online shops in the Philippines have dedicated relationship managers whose job is to fulfill the shopping whims of VIP clients. Just call the hotline and they’ll get that very expensive bag for you. They’ll even have the boss’ car deliver the beribboned package to your door. In other words, there’s no stopping shopping. If you want something, you can get it.

More: Grand Seiko's Rare Watches Are Now Available at Its New Online Shop in the Philippines

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Clifford Olanday
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