The Holiday Season
A Number-Lovers Guide To The Holidays
The stars are shining at Queens Center Mall. Tribune Photo by Ira Cohen
The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating with friends and family, gift-giving and general cheer and rejoicing. 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 ...
20 billion: The number of letters, packages and cards delivered by the U.S. Postal Service between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. The busiest mailing day that year was Dec. 19, with more than twice as many cards and letters being cancelled as on an average day.
About 1 million: Number of packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service every day last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The busiest delivery day: Dec. 21.
The 2005 December Rush
$31.7 billion: Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2005. This represented a 47 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many Christmas-related, registered $21.7 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 2005 were book stores (96 percent); clothing stores (49 percent); jewelry stores (174 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (54 percent); and sporting goods stores (67 percent).
14 percent: The proportion of total 2005 sales for department stores (including leased departments) that took place in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 24 percent.
23 percent: The proportion of growth in inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) between the end of August and the end of November 2005. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 23 percent in December.
1.8 million: The number of people employed at department stores in December 2005. Retail employment typically swells during the holiday season, last year rising by an estimated 46,600 from November and 186,400 from October.
$19.4 billion: Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2005 – easily the highest total for any month last year.
$27.1 billion: The value of total retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2005. This amount represented 2.7 percent of total retail sales over the period and exceeded e-commerce sales for all other quarters of the year. E-commerce sales were up 23 percent from the fourth quarter of 2004.
15,626: The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2004. These businesses, which employed 261,646 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their sales: $147 billion, of which 35 percent were attributable to e-commerce. California led the nation in the number of these establishments and their employees, with 2,322 and 30,619, respectively.
Christmas Trees and Decorations
$485 million: The amount of money the nation’s Christmas tree farmers received from tree sales in 2005. Oregon was the top state in tree sales ($126 million), followed by North Carolina, Washington and Michigan.
$605 million: The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2006. 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 ($65 million worth) during the same period.
Where the Toys Are ... Made
116: Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2004; they employed 2,386 people. California led the nation with 17 such locations.
723: The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children’s vehicles in 2004; they employed 16,465 workers. California led the nation with 117 establishments.
$3.2 billion: Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2004.
$639 million: The value of U.S. imports of stuffed toys (excluding dolls) from China between January and August 2006. 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 that were imported. These include electric trains ($65 million), puzzles ($49 million), roller skates ($82 million), sports footwear ($215 million), golf equipment ($47 million) and basketballs ($30 million). China barely edged out Canada as the leading supplier of ice skates ($6.7 million versus $6.6 million), with Thailand ranking third ($4.9 million).