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Newsroom Archive

Facts for Features
Dec. 2, 2011

The 2011 Holiday Season

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 collection of statistics.

Rush to the Stores

$27.2 billion

Retail sales by the nation's department stores (including leased departments) in December 2010. This represented a 44 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered $18.8 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 2010 were clothing stores (33 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (44 percent); sporting goods stores (58 percent); bookstores (92 percent); and jewelry stores (113 percent).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Service Sector Statistics <https://www.census.gov/retail>

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 and inventory estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.


The percentage of total 2010 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 20 percent.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Service Sector Statistics <https://www.census.gov/retail>


The growth in inventories by our nation's department stores (excluding leased departments) from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2010. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 22 percent in December.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Service Sector Statistics <https://www.census.gov/retail>

$34 billion

Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2010 — the highest total for any month last year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Service Sector Statistics <https://www.census.gov/retail>


The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2009. These businesses, which employed 320,721 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts (NAICS code 45411).

If you're not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2009, there were 150,205 clothing and clothing accessories stores (NAICS code 448); 8,663 department stores (NAICS code 4521); 8,424 hobby, toy and game shops (NAICS code 45112); 27,738 gift, novelty and souvenir shops (NAICS code 45322); 21,628 sporting goods stores (NAICS code 45111); 24,973 jewelry stores (NAICS code 44831); and 9,390 book stores (NAICS code 451211) across the nation. The figures shown are for locations with paid employees and do not include nonemployer firms (i.e. firms with no paid employees). NAICS — North American Industry Classification System
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, <https://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/>

Christmas Trees and Decorations

$983 million

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2011. 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 ($79.7 million worth) during the same period.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics <https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/>

Where the Toys are ... Made


Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2009. California led the nation with 15 locations.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS code 339931, <https://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/>


The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children's vehicles in 2009; they employed 7,858 workers. California led the nation with 98 establishments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS code 339932, <https://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/>

$2.5 billion

The value of U.S. toy imports including stuffed toys (including dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China between January and September 2011. 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 ($24.6 million), sports footwear ($253.8 million) and basketballs ($38.9 million). China leads Thailand as the leading supplier of ice skates ($17.7 million versus $9.8 million), with Canada ranking third ($4.2 million).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics <https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/>

Holiday Names

Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 2,117); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,481); Santa Claus, Ga. (165); Noel, Mo. (1,832); and — if you know about reindeer — the village of Rudolph, Wis. (439) and Dasher, Ga. (912). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,590) and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss. (7,699) and Mount Holly, N.C. (13,656).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census <http://factfinder2.census.gov/>

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa


Proportion of the nation's spuds produced in Idaho and Washington in 2010. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.
Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>

$1.5 billion

The value of product shipments of candles in 2009 by the nation's manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Survey of Manufacturers, NAICS Code 3399995; <http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DatasetMainPageServlet?_program=EAS&_submenuId=&_lang=en&_ts=>

New Year's Eve and Day

More than 312 million

The nation's projected population as we ring in the New Year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates <https://www.census.gov/popest/>

Following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series:

  • African-American History Month (February)
  • Super Bowl
  • Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
  • Women's History Month (March)
  • Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
          St. Patrick's Day (March 17)
  • Earth Day (April 22)
  • Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
  • Older Americans Month (May)
  • Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
  • Mother's Day
  • Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
  • Father's Day
  • The Fourth of July (July 4)
  • Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
  • Back to School (August)
  • Labor Day
  • Grandparents Day
  • Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
  • Unmarried and Single Americans Week
  • Halloween (Oct. 31)
  • American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
  • Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • The Holiday Season (December)

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. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; fax: 301-763-3762; or e-mail: <PIO@census.gov>.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: May 19, 2016