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FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

Admittedly, there are companies whose businesses’ unexpected growth are largely driven by the pandemic. These are companies whose businesses directly address the basic or diversion needs of people who are forced to stay at home. 

These companies include, among others, Zoom, Amazon, Netflix, Teladoc and Shopify.  Records will show that as the pandemic wreaked havoc and most people were holed up in their homes, Zoom rose steeply to 635%. Likewise, Amazon and Netflix were up 79.2% and 59.1%, respectively. Same was true with Teladoc (a telemedicine company), which was up 146.2%, as well as Shopify, which darted 162.8%.

As a testament to “stay-at-home” companies dominance, the CEO (and majority owner) of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is now the world’s richest with a net worth of over US$200 billion. He happens to be the first human being on Earth to accumulate that much wealth. Notably, he surpassed Warren Buffet, the investment guru, and Bill Gates, a fellow tech giant, with ease.  True enough, online retail’s dominance is well demonstrated by Amazon.

Indeed, we can all see and feel these companies’ influences in our midst. Inarguably, even ordinary folks, know online retail companies like Amazon. Locally, e-commerce or online retail platforms are sprouting and are into their own sorts of competition. Just like the usual bricks and mortar businesses that we’ve seen growing up, they are also on sale, more often, to increase traffic or patronage.

Their record-shattering performances (rise in stock prices), however, were only good and true until November 8, 2020. As soon as the availability of the vaccine was announced the following day (November 9, 2020), Zoom closed 17.4% lower, while Amazon and Netflix dropped 5.1% and 8.6%, respectively.  Likewise, Teladoc Health skidded 13.7% and Shopify wilted by 13.6%.

As expected, shares of those companies hibernating during the pandemic rose considerably. Cruise operators Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line were up 39.3% and 26.8%, respectively. Royal Caribbean closed 28.8% higher. American Airlines, meanwhile, surged more than 15%.  Notably, these are companies that are in the travel and tourism industry.  Though these are all American companies, this optimism is true throughout the world, the Philippines included.

While the “stay-at-home” shares dropped, in its entirety, this development is great.  This simply means that we are now on the road to recovery. Both big and small business will certainly open again and jobs will be up for the taking. Therefore, income generating activities will certainly be back soon. 

However, having gone through a pandemic of this magnitude, most of us are, probably, in debt by now.  Some maybe lucky enough that they have remained debt-free. Probably though, their savings have dwindled and are almost brought down to zero. Therefore, being frugal must be the most logical step, spending-wise, moving forward.

So, the best way is to find ways by which we can find and buy our needs at the lowest prices possible. Obviously, we have to go bargain hunting.  How can that be possible?  Well, remember, almost everything we need can be bought online.

With that undisputable fact, there are Chrome (or browser) extensions that are readily available that can help us navigate through an ocean of items and price information. These are, among others, Honey, Wikibuy and newcomer Popcart. Generally, these Chrome extensions will find everything you need (from appliances to napkins or deodorant to dog food, etc.) at the lowest prices possible. The idea is, these Chrome extensions comb the internet (like websites or platforms of online retail companies like Amazon, Target or Walmart) for price comparison.

They also look for seat sales amongAirline and Cruise companies or discounts offered by Hotel operators. The ultimate goal here is that the customers are given the information suitable for bargain hunting or comparison shopping.

Impressively, in Honey, a buyer can even enumerate his specific needs in its “droplist.” Then, it automatically inform the buyer once it detects price drops of those in the “droplist.”

Sadly though, for the time being, most of these browser extensions aresupporting online retail outlets, airline companies, cruise lines, hotels, etc. that are based in the USA. The brighter spot though is that, anything good in the USA will usually find its way to other countries. 

There is nothing though that can prevent us from developing a browser extension like these. Aren’t our IT experts touted as one of the world’s best? Why wait?

foabalos@yahoo.com

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