Retailers don’t even wait anymore for Halloween to be done before putting up Christmas decorations and blitzing television stations with holiday shopping ads.
Thanksgiving Day kind of gets lost in the crush. Even Black Friday seems eclipsed by retailers’ rush to open stores as soon as the last fork hits the table after the feast of turkey and all of the trimmings. Time to waddle out to the stores!
’Tis the season.
In the spirit of isn’t commercialism a swimmingly, fanciful wonderful thing as the country continues to pull further away from the Great Recession (when we wish we could have done this kind of happy dance), the U.S. Census Bureau provides some stimulating data as the Christmas shopping season shifts into high gear.
The nation’s department stores in December 2014 did an estimated $24.5 billion in retail sales, which was a 41.2 percent increase from the previous month when sales were $17.3 billion. “No other estimated month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large,” the census reports.
Last quarter sales for retailers weigh heavily on whether it was a good year for them. The last month also matters. The census reports that December 2014 for department stores was when 14.2 percent of estimated sales were recorded. For jewelry stores December 2014 sales represented 18.2 percent of their business.
From Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2014, department stores’ inventories grew an estimated 21.7 percent as they ramped up for the holidays.
Electronic shopping and mail order houses in December 2014 logged $48.3 billion in sales, the highest estimated today for any month last year. By the way, there were 31,112 electronic shopping and mail-order houses in 2013, employing 383,066 workers.
Not everything that consumers buy during the holidays is made in America — surprise, surprise. As a matter of fact, $1.2 billion in something as American as Christmas tree ornaments came from China from January to September 2015.
“China was the leading country of origin for such items,” the census reports. “Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($163 million worth) during the same period.”
What are the holidays without poinsettias? There were 567 U.S. producers of poinsettias in 2014. California, North Carolina and Florida ranked in the top three in poinsettia sales.
In 2013 there were 545 locations that primarily produced dolls, toys and games, employing 6,538 people. California led the U.S. with 86 businesses of that type.
For people looking for that Christmas-related postmark like Hell, Mich., for Halloween, there are a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, N.C., and Holly Springs, Miss. There also is Snowflake, Ariz.; Santa Claus, Ind.; North Pole, Alaska; and Noel, Mo. And for the reindeer lovers, there’s Dasher, Ga., and Rudolph, Wis. People seeking peace on earth might turn to Unity, N.H., and Peace, N.D.
Not to leave out Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, the census notes that Washington state and Idaho for the holiday feast on Thursday, produced 53 percent of the nation’s potato crop in 2014.
U.S. manufacturers shipped $1.7 billion in candles in 2013. Many candles are lighted during Diwali (Nov. 11), Hanukkah (Dec. 6-14) and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26- Jan. 1).
This also is the season to mail gifts to relatives. The U.S. Postal Service surpassed its own December 2014 projects for package deliveries by 11.5 percent. That was an increase of 18 percent from package deliveries in December 2013.
Happy shopping season — the No. 1 U.S. holiday.