KLA surveyed a cross-section of South Africans in November.

What did we ask them? In a nutshell, we asked how they plan to experience the end of what has been a tumultuous year. Rather than throwing facts and figures at you, we’d like you to meet Mo. His fictional account is a representation of the choices our surveyed South Africans are considering this festive season.

To pack or not to pack 

Mo’s income has fallen as a result of the pandemic. He thinks hard about whether he can afford to travel in the face of tighter finances. But, he reasons, it’s been a year characterised by painful confinement and a loss of connection, both of which travel could help to heal.

Sure, the decision to travel might be a bit impulsive. But Mo still has the discipline to sit down and put together a budget, detailing what he can afford to spend on his holiday.

Last year that number came in at R17,782. In 2020? He can afford R15,247. Mo wants to make the most of his vacation – he’s not certain he’ll be able to travel again next year – so he plans to allocate a slightly larger portion of his budget to accommodation and other travel-related expenses (51%) than he did last year (39%). This means he can afford a destination outside of his home province. He books it.

Travelling lighter

Usually, Mo breaks into a sweat when his wife Lindi shows him the gifts that need to be packed into their car. Luckily, though, Lindi was part of the holiday budgeting process and the couple agreed to reduce the amount they spend on gifts.

Last year that figure stood at 27% of their total holiday budget. It’ll be 20% this year. But Mo is still sweating. Despite the modern-day pressures to transcend gender-based stereotypes, he has a tangible disdain for shopping, doing everything in his power to ring-fence it within Lindi’s household portfolio.

That said, he’s noted with considerable angst the increasing volume of Takealot boxes arriving at his gate; his imagination whirring wildly in speculation of the contents. Lindi, sensing his growing unease, is quick to assure him that she’s within budget; she’s just chosen to buy everything online.

The lack of social distancing in the shops, and the often lackadaisical attitude of fellow retail junkies towards measures designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, make Lindi apprehensive about in-store shopping. She also did a fair amount of non-holiday shopping during the pandemic – that Mo doesn’t need to know about – and is newly comfortable with the process of ordering online and either collecting from the store or having her wares delivered to her doorstep.

Lindi recalls reading somewhere (hint: KLA research) that 51% of South Africans are expecting to buy their gifts online this year, placing us on par with global markets. Pretty neat! But there are still items that Lindi would rather buy in-store. She knows, however, that she’ll only feel comfortable doing so if staff and other shoppers are wearing masks and if hand sanitiser is readily available.

Turning homebody 

After a tense 6-hour drive, interspersed with unsynchronised bathroom breaks, unintended detours, and a head-swelling tyre change, Mo and Lindi reach their destination.

The sun is a few clicks from setting, and there’s a magnificent beach bar just down the road that serves crisp lager and pick-me-up cocktails – the perfect medicine after a tedious time on the tarmac.

But Mo and Lindi already know they aren’t going. Dining out doesn’t fit into their budget, nor does it sit well with their commitment to maintaining a cautious approach to socialising in public places. Two of their oldest friends are in the area, however, and they’re willing to take a calculated risk – with precautions – to see them.

After all, with a slow-cooked brisket, a few ice-cold beers in the Coleman, and a curated playlist, who really needs a restaurant? Mo and Lindi will have fun this festive season; they just plan on doing things a little differently.