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.
Number of letters, packages and cards the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. The busiest mailing day this year is expected to be Dec. 18, with more than twice as many cards and letters being processed as the average on any given day. (Source: U.S. Postal Service at
Number of packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service every day through Christmas Eve. The busiest delivery day: Dec. 20. (Source: U.S. Postal Service at
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2005 – easily the highest total for any month last year.
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.
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.
If you’re not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2004, there were 149,831 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 9,360 department stores; 10,345 hobby, toy and game shops; 33,956 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 22,902 sporting goods stores; 28,772 jewelry stores; and 11,218 book stores across the nation.
The number of malls and shopping centers dotting the U.S. landscape as of 2005, a total that increased by approximately 12,000 since 1990. (Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007.)
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. (Source: USDA Economic Research Service at
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.
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.
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.
Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2004.
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).
Places whose names are associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 1,778 in 2005); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,283); Santa Claus, Ga. (242); Noel, Mo. (1,515); and — if you know about reindeer — the village of Rudolph, Wis. (422). On top of that there is Snowflake, Ariz. (4,958); Dasher, Ga. (807); and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C. (Source:
<http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb06-95.html> and American FactFinder)
Proportion of the nation’s spuds produced in Idaho and Washington in 2005. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.
Following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau Facts for Features series:
Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: (301) 763-3030; fax: (301) 457-3670; or e-mail: <PIO@census.gov>.