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Christmas by the numbers
Thursday, December 20, 2012 2:03 PM

Census Bureau News: The 2012 Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating with friends and family, gifts 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.


$27 billion – Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2011. This represented a 45 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered 18.6 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 2011 were bookstores (76 percent); clothing stores (38 percent); jewelry stores (129 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (40 percent); and sporting goods stores (55 percent).

14.3% – The percentage of total 2011 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 19.3 percent.

22% – The growth in inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2011. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 21 percent in December.

$38 Billion – Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2011 – the highest total for any month last year.

22,534 – The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2010. These businesses, which employed 311,792 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 2010, there were 147,614 clothing and clothing accessories stores (NAICS code 448); 26,899 gift, novelty and souvenir shops (NAICS code 45322); 23,739 jewelry stores (NAICS code 44831); 21,418 sporting goods stores (NAICS code 45111); 8,876 bookstores (NAICS code 451211) 8,779 hobby, toy and game shops (NAICS code 45112); and 8,626 department stores (NAICS code 4521); across the nation. The figures shown are for locations with paid employees and do not include non-employer firms (i.e. firms with no paid employees).


$1.03 billion – The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2012. 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 ($139.9 million worth) during the same period.


73 – Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2010. California led the nation with 10 locations.

525 – The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children’s vehicles in 2010; they employed 7,374 workers. California led the nation with 85 establishments.

$9.6 billion – The value of U.S. toy imports, including stuffed toys (such as dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China, between January and September 2012. 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 sports footwear ($227.7 million), basketballs ($41.0 million) and roller skates ($31.8 million). China led Thailand as the leading supplier of ice skates ($10.7 million versus $9.5 million), with Canada ranked third ($3.6 million).


Place names associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 13,719) and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,638). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,587), Santa Claus, Ind. (2,484), North Pole, Alaska (2,154), Noel, Mo. (1,822) and — if you know about reindeer —Dasher, Ga. (934) and the village of Rudolph, Wis. (440). There is also Santa Claus, Ga. (166).


58% – Proportion of the nation’s spuds produced in Idaho and Washington during the fall of 2011. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.

$1.38 billion – The value of product shipments of candles in 2011 by the nation’s manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Hanukkah (Dec. 8 to 16) and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 to Jan. 1) celebrations.


More than 315 million – The nation’s projected population as we ring in the New Year.