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The Holiday Season, by the numbers


The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating with friends and family, gift-giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its data collection.

It’s in the Mail

19 billion
Number of cards, letters and packages the U.S. Postal Service expected to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. The busiest delivery day was expected to be Dec. 17. On Dec. 15, the Postal Service expected to cancel the largest volume of mail of the season, with 960 million cards and letters processed.
Source: U.S. Postal Service…

Rush to the Stores

$28.2 billion
Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2008. This represented a 40 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered $20.2 billion). No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large.

Other U.S. retailers with sizable jumps in sales between November and December 2008 were book stores (95 percent); clothing stores (32 percent); jewelry stores (125 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (38 percent); and sporting goods stores (62 percent).
Source: Service Sector Statistics

14 percent
The proportion of total 2008 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 18 percent.
Source: Service Sector Statistics

23 percent
The growth in inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2008. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 25 percent in December.
Source: Service Sector Statistics

Note: Leased departments are separately owned businesses operated as departments or concessions of other service establishments or of retail businesses, such as a separately owned shoeshine parlor in a barber shop, or a beauty shop in a department store. Also, retail sales estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.

$24 billion
Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2008 — the highest total for any month last year.
Source: Service Sector Statistics

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2007. These businesses, which employed 268,328 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their 2007 sales: $199 billion, of which 44.6 percent were attributable to e-commerce. California led the nation in the number of these establishments and their employees, with 2,493 and 32,971, respectively.
Source: County Business Patterns… and Annual Trade Survey…

If you’re not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2007, there were 155,371 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 10,116 department stores; 9,515 hobby, toy and game shops; 30,920 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 23,756 sporting goods stores; 27,484 jewelry stores; and 10,635 book stores across the nation. The figures shown are for locations with paid employees.
Source: County Business Patterns…

Christmas Trees and Decorations

$410 million
Sales by U.S. Christmas tree farmers in 2007.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

$109.3 million
Sales by Christmas tree farmers in Oregon in 2007, which led the nation.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

$470.3 million
The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($28.6 million worth) during the same period.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics…

Where the Toys are … Made

Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2007; they employed 1,641 people. California led the nation with 17 locations.
Source: County Business Patterns…

The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children’s vehicles in 2007; they employed 10,708 workers. California led the nation with 112 establishments.
Source: County Business Patterns…

$3.2 billion
Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2007.
Source: 2007 Economic Census

$4.3 billion
The value of U.S. toy imports including stuffed toys (excluding dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts.

These include roller skates ($30 million), sports footwear ($120 million), golf balls ($31 million) and basketballs ($29 million). China leads Canada as the leading supplier of ice skates ($12 million versus $5 million), with Thailand ranking third ($4 million).
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics…

Holiday Names

Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 2,212 in 2008); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,314); Santa Claus, Ga. (250); Noel, Mo. (1,608); and — if you know about reindeer — the village of Rudolph, Wis. (412) and Dasher, Ga. (849). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,673) and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C.
Source: Population estimates…

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

Proportion of the nation’s spuds produced in Idaho and Washington in 2008. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.
Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service

$1.3 billion
The value of product shipments of candles in 2002 by the nation’s manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations.
Source: 2002 Economic Census…

New Year’s Eve and Day

The estimated July 1, 2008, population of Champaign, Ill., a place whose name alone may get you into a celebratory mood.
Source: Population estimates…

$475 million
U.S. manufacturers shipments of effervescent wines (including sparkling wines, such as champagne) in 2002.
Source: 2002 Economic Census at…

More than 308 million
The nation’s projected population as we ring in the New Year.
Source: Population projections

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