Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association


The Holiday and Christmas Season

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.

Itís in the Mail ...

20 billion
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
< >)

About 12 million
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
< >.)

The December Rush to the Stores Ė Last Year

$31.7 billion
Retail sales by the nationís 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).
< >

14 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. < >

23 percent
The proportion of growth in inventories by our nationís 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.

1.8 million
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.
< >

$19.4 billion
Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in
December 2005 Ė easily the highest total for any month last year.
< >

$27.1 billion
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,
and < >

If youíre 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.)

Christmas Trees and Decorations

$485 million
The amount of money the nationís 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 < >)

$605 million
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. < >

Where the Toys Are ... Made

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 childrenís
vehicles in 2004; they employed 16,465 workers. California led the nation
with 117 establishments.

$3.2 billion
Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in
< >

$639 million
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). < >

Holiday Names

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 ó if you know about reindeer ó 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:
and American FactFinder)


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