by Frances Edstrom
Feeling the pinch in your wallet from the Christmas preparations? You aren't the only one who feels a difference in the pocketbook this season. But here, thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau, is a cumulative look at how your dollars spent affect others, here and around the world. Didn't know how powerful you were, did you?
Number of Christmas cards sent to friends and loved ones every year, making Christmas the largest card-sending occasion in the United States. The second largest is Valentine's Day, with approximately 192 million cards being given.
Number of letters, packages and cards delivered by the U.S. Postal Service between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The busiest mailing day this year was expected to be 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 through Christmas Eve. The busiest delivery day: Dec. 21. (and don't forget UPS, FedEx, etc.)
Number of Christmas trees cut around the country in 2002. These trees were located on 21,904 farms spread out across 447,000 acres. Wisconsin tops the one million mark!
The amount of money the nation's Christmas tree farmers received from tree sales in 2004.
The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2005. 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 ($69 million worth) during the same period.
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 2004. This represented a 54 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many Christmas-related, registered $20.8 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 2004 were clothing stores (48 percent); jewelry stores (170 percent); book stores (100 percent); sporting goods stores (63 percent); and radio, TV and other electronics stores (58 percent).
The number of people employed at department stores in December 2004. Retail employment typically swells during the holiday season, last year rising by 50,900 from November and 195,500 from October.
The value of total retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2004. This amount, represented 2.3 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 24 percent from the fourth quarter of 2003.
Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2003; they employed 2,123 people. California led the nation with 19 such locations, and Vermont employed the most, 670.
Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2003.
The value of U.S. imports of stuffed toys (excluding dolls) from China between January and August 2005. 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 ($71 million); puzzles ($48 million); roller skates ($44 million); sports footwear ($204 million); golf equipment ($43 million); and basketballs ($26 million). Canada was the leading supplier of ice skates ($7 million).
The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2003. These businesses, which employed 264,868 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their sales: $131 billion, of which 31 percent were attributable to e-commerce.
The number of malls and shopping centers dotting the U.S. landscape as of 2004, a total that had increased by approximately 10,000 since 1990.
Shopping days until Christmas. Relax!