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Car sales and the Hungry Ghost Month

Car sales and the Hungry Ghost Month image

Text: Brent Co / Photos: Kelvin Christian Go, Brent Co | posted July 23, 2014 18:21

Traditional Chinese beliefs and its effect on auto sales

Have you ever wondered why Philippine auto industry sales have a tendency to take a dip in August? Or perhaps why car manufacturers come out with all kinds of attractive promos during this period?

Since ancient Chinese times, the seventh lunar month of the traditional Chinese calendar has been designated as the 'Ghost Month'; a period that is believed to be the time when the 'Gates of Hell' open for spirits and ghosts to visit the living realm. In most oriental countries with significant Chinese communities, it is regarded as a very inauspcious month where people avoid making major activities like travelling, moving house, starting a new business or, in our case, buying a new motor vehicle.

Since buying a car is considered a major activity, sales are considerably affected in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Car dealers normally attempt to prop up sales with promos and discounts to influence buyers to think twice about the belief.

Ghost day

The 2014 'Ghost Month' runs from July 27 until August 24. There are three important days to look out for within this inauspicious period; the first, the fifteenth and the last day. The first and last days, being the start and end; while the fifteenth (August 10 this year) being believed to be the 'Ghost Day' where the hungry ghosts and spirits are out to cause trouble.

The Philippines, being heavily influenced by Chinese culture is affected as well as car sales typically experience a downturn consistently during this period every year. In 2013, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. and the Truck Manufacturers Association registered 13,700 units of sales in the month of August; a figure that is 12.7% lower than July 2013 wherein CAMPI/TMA sold 15,686 units. In August 2012, CAMPI/TMA registered 11,351 units in sales.

It is believed that many mishaps, tragedies and 'spiritual phenomenon' occur during this period. A more logical explanation of some of these would be typhoon season and coincidence. The months of July and August normally experience increased typhoon activities due to the rainy season. Heavy rainfall brings out floods that are associated with mishaps and tragedies.

Philippine International Motor Show

Major international auto shows also avoid this period. Incidentally, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) decided to move the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) from its normal August schedule to September starting this year.

To try and buck the trend, August is actually the peak time in which car manufacturers and distributors activate attractive offers to entice customers to buy. Promos like all-in downpayment schemes, low or even zero interest financing plans and freebies are all handed out in August.

Do you share a simliar belief or would you go out and take advantage of the lucrative offers? We can't wait to hear your input on this one.