Breaking The Habit

New Normal Commerce is about supporting local

Part of this “new normal” is the idea that things are not going back to the way they were before the pandemic. A lot of things have changed, this includes how we buy and sell things. This “New Normal Commerce” is something that we are forced into, and we all have to get used to it eventually.

Think about it – when was the last time you went to a tiangge and haggled for the item you were eyeing? When was the last time you actually sat down in a restaurant and had a meal with someone? When was the last time you thought to yourself, I’ll just pass by the grocery after work because I’m running out of supplies?

You never thought that would be the last time you’ll do that, right?

It may be bleak right now, but we need to adapt instead of wishing for things to go back to “normal”. We need a new way of looking at buying and selling things. It might be for our own personal survival, but in the end, it might also be our civic duty to adapt. Commerce makes the markets thrive and economies improve, and now more than ever, we must support each other.

“Buying Local” no longer just an environmental adage

Supporting each other means “buying local”. You might have heard that phrase before – but in this new normal, buying local is actually becoming the norm.

Since travel is limited, goods will definitely become more expensive. “Buying local” used to be just a buzzword from environmentalists who wants to cut down on their carbon footprint. Buying your local, organic produce, used to be pricey. However, the opposite is now true in this new normal commerce.

Before, the big grocery chains benefit from “economy of scale” – transporting in bulk means they get to sell it for cheaper. Now that transporting goods becomes harder, prices for produce in the grocery will increase. You’ll notice it, especially during the start of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last March. Prices of vegetables and other goods doubled, or in some cases, even tripled.

Compare that with your local vegetable vendor. They might have more steady access to supplies, probably because they actually know the people growing these vegetables. Maybe they’re the ones who actually planted them in the first place.

Less middlemen means lesser costs, so really, it’s a win-win for both you and for the vendor. These small vendors need our help now more than ever. We need to stimulate local economy in these times, so keep an eye out for them.

New Normal means shifting increasingly towards e-commerce

In the world of New Normal Commerce, people are slowly starting to move online. We don’t have a choice – most of the time, it’s safer to buy things online than risk going out. Although malls are starting to re-open, it’s still more dangerous than just buying produce from your local vendor. You risk more exposure because more people gravitate towards malls – that’s just what we were used to.

Shopping is completely different now, as we had to adapt from visiting physical stores to doing everything online. This goes both ways, as businesses had to adapt too. Selling things online seems to become an integral part of this new normal.

Online stores existed before the pandemic, but it seems that now, it’s actually thriving. Local online selling platform Shopee notes that more and more Filipinos are turning to e-commerce for their daily needs. This mirrors the fact that a lot of people who lost their jobs now turn to these platforms to try their hand at online selling.

How many of your friends, family, and acquaintances are now suddenly selling things? Some companies like Food Panda are even tapping tricycle drivers who have been out of work:

It might be a matter of survival for them, but for the rest of us, it means more options. Let’s support this new industry under the new normal. Instead of buying at the physical store or restaurant, why not buy through these apps? Or better yet – why not support these small merchants popping up on Facebook?

Supporting Local is our civic duty as consumers

Buying local and supporting the “little guys” on these e-commerce platforms are just the start. We are yet to see this new normal in full swing, as more and more options are becoming available to us as the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) eases.

The truth is, we could all use the help as we start recovering from this pandemic. This is especially true for the informal sector who do not have access to online options. Think of all the repairmen, and shop workers who lost their jobs. Think of the jeepney, tricycle, and pedicab drivers who did not expect that their sources of livelihood will essentially disappear overnight.

We need to jump-start our economy again, and this New Normal Commerce is the start. Supporting local is our civic duty, and the primary stepping stone back to a #BetterPhilippines.

READ: COVID-19 Liquor Bans: Everything in Moderation

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