Those festive folks at the U.S. Census Bureau have come up with an assortment of holiday season fun facts and statistics with a particular eye on America’s most revered seasonal tradition: buying things:
Christmas Trees, Ornaments and Gifts
The amount of money the nation’s Christmas tree farmers received from tree sales in 2003.
The amount received by Christmas tree farmers in Oregon from tree sales in 2003, making the Beaver State the nation’s Christmas tree leader. North Carolina, Washington and Michigan round out the top four states in tree sales. < More on Christmas trees and the battle between artificial and natural here.
The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and July 2004. 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 ($40 million worth) during the same period.
The dollar amount of retail sales by the U.S. toy industry in 2002. Of this, $10.3 billion came from sales of video games. It is believed a hefty percentage of these sales were holiday gifts.
The number of places around the country named “Christmas.” That unincorporated town is Christmas, Fla., which had a population of 1,162 in 2000.
Other places whose names are associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 1,645 in 2003); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,164); Santa Claus, Ga. (238); Noel, Mo. (1,452); and the village of Rudolph, Wis. (415).
Holiday Shopping — The December Rush
The holiday season is critical for retailers. How critical? Well, here are some examples using the most recent Census Bureau data available. Note that the estimates that follow have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.
Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2003. This represented a 48 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many Christmas-related, registered $21.0 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 2003 were clothing stores (45 percent); jewelry stores (169 percent); book stores (95 percent); sporting goods stores (66 percent); and radio, TV and other electronics stores (59 percent).
The value of electronic shopping and mail-order sales in December 2003, easily the greatest amount for any month that year.
The value of total retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2003. This amount, representing 1.9 percent of total retail sales over the period, exceeded e-commerce sales for all other quarters of the year.
The proportion of total 2003 sales for department stores (including leased departments) that took place in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 24 percent.
The proportion that the nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) built up their inventories between the end of August and the end of November 2003. Thanks to the holiday hordes, inventories plummeted by 24 percent in the year’s final month.
The number of people employed at department stores in December 2003. This number typically swells during the holiday season, last year rising by 44,600 over November and 159,900 over October. Apparel and accessory stores showed similar seasonal employment gains.
Where are Christmas Gifts Made?
Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2001; they employed 2,271 people; their total shipments: $296 million. California led the nation with 29 such locations, and New York employed the most, 374.
The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children’s vehicles in 2001; they employed 21,644 workers and shipped $3.1 billion of goods. California led the nation in the number of these establishments with 117 and Ohio in the number of people they employed, 2,972.
The value of U.S. imports of stuffed toys (excluding dolls) from China between January and July 2004. China was the leading country of origin for toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts that were imported. These include electric trains ($40 million over the period); puzzles ($27 million); roller skates ($38 million); sports footwear ($148 million); golf equipment ($29 million); and basketballs ($32 million). Canada was the leading supplier of ice skates ($8 million).
Where Holiday Gifts are Purchased
The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2001. These businesses, which employed 280,912 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their sales: $109 bilion, of which 24 percent were attributable to e-commerce. California led the nation in the number of these establishments and their employees, with 1,746 and 30,291, respectively.
If you’re not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2001, there were 151,668 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 10,374 department stores; 10,783 hobby, toy and game shops; 33,678 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 22,468 sporting goods stores; 29,780 jewelry stores; and 11,559 book stores.
The number of malls and shopping centers dotting the U.S. landscape as of 2003, a total that had increased by approximately 10,000 since 1990.
The number of Americans who say they Alpine-ski more than once a year. Other popular winter sports are cross country-skiing and ice hockey (each around 2.0 million) and snowboarding (5.6 million).
More than 2 feet
Average depth of the snowfall each December in Valdez, Alaska; Mount Washington, N.H.; Blue Canyon, Calif.; Yakutat, Alaska; Sault Sainte Marie, Mich.; Marquette, Mich.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Muskegon, Mich., all good places for winter sports participants. Nice places to visit, but …