As many struggle financially this year due to the ongoing pandemic, 2020 might be the year some Latinos rethink what gifts they give for the holidays and how much they spend. Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Should Latinos make 2020 the year that they change the way they shop for the holidays, perhaps permanently?

Felisa Cárdenas, a sports news producer in Austin, Texas, has been adjusting her holiday shopping habits for the last few years in ways that many others will be adopting for 2020. About five years ago, she shifted to more online shopping and away from venturing out on Black Friday. She buys gifts as early as July and she’s trying to support a wider range of businesses.

“I use Amazon, but for the most part I’ve moved to supporting small businesses through Etsy. I may not have the time to personally make someone’s gift,” she says, “but I can find a custom gift made by hand that is or will be meaningful for my family.” 

For Latinos who want to change their annual holiday spending, the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic strain could be good incentives to break the usual Black Friday habits. Supporting smaller Latino-owned businesses instead of the usual big-box retailers and or using skills gained this year during the pandemic for hand-made gifts are just a few ways to rethink holiday shopping and to avoid crowds.

While Latinos are typically the U.S. group that spends the most money on holiday shopping, about 33 percent more than whites, in recent years, but  this year they are expected to cut back, according to the data research company Morning Consult.

The country’s top retailers are already flooding potential customers with early Black Friday shopping offers. Their message is that holiday shopping doesn’t need to wait until Thanksgiving.

But as many Latinos still struggle with the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an economy that pushed millions of people into unemployment or financial instability, retailer’s advertising may meet some resistance this year.

For shoppers who want to start shifting where they spend their money to support more small businesses and shops owned by Latino entrepreneurs, Harper’s Bazaar has a list of Latinx-owned brands to shop, from Paula Mendoza jewelry to Loisa food seasonings to children’s book publisher Lil’ Libros

Similar lists have been put out recently by Cosmopolitan, which has a huge list of 73 Latinx-owned businesses, and Oprah, which focused on a list of 10 Latina-owned firms to shop from. Going through these lists for gift ideas is one way to support entrepreneurs of color and small businesses. Experts believe that the recent resurgence of social-justice movements such as Black Lives Matter could also change 2020 shopping habits

Product categories such as phones, HDTVs, toys, and other electronics are popular among Latinos, as are music-related gifts, clothes, and jewelry. For those who want to put spending in check, however, you can avoid splurging by making gifts of your own. If you picked up skills during the pandemic, use them to make your own gifts such as freshly grown plants, hand-made items crocheted together, or artwork created during quarantine could be more personalized gifts than anything found on Amazon.

Here are three items Latino-flavored items we found that might make great gifts for $20 and under:

  • Tragos” is a popular party game that combines Latino pop culture with drinking games (alcohol optional) for $20.
  • The late astrologer Walter Mercado was rediscovered by many this year with the Netflix documentary “Mucho Mucho Amor.” A $15 Etsy mug inspired by Mercado, “Cafecito y mucho mucho amor” might make someone ‘s morning.
  • has boxes with a variety of candies from Mexico. Some of the boxes are less than $10 and are shipped out of California.

Omar L. Gallaga is a freelance journalist living in Central Texas who has written for NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Engadget, Hispanic Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, and The Washington Post. He was a longtime technology and culture writer at The Austin American-Statesman, where he helped launch the newspaper ¡ahora sí! and two podcasts.