Do you remember what the holidays felt like when you were a kid? School projects took a festive turn, cookies and sweets were just a little bit sweeter, subtle hints about the gifts you wanted weren’t quite subtle enough. Everything seemed wondrous for a brief, special time.
Unfortunately, being an adult means that sense of magic is likely replaced with an emotion fit for the Grinch: stress.
From picking just the right gift for everyone on your list, to the sheer burden of financing all of your seasonal expenses, the holidays can be overwhelming. The spirit of the holiday season can be quantified, from the amount of money we spend to the exact count of candy canes made, chocolate Santas consumed, average miles traveled and trees cut down to furnish our homes. Using National Retail Federation survey data for 2015, FindTheData found 25 fascinating facts about the holiday season.
The average person will spend $805 during the holidays.
This is a slight uptick from last year’s spending ($802.45, on average) and a massive change from the period right after the Great Recession, when consumer spending on the holidays fell to a low of $681.83 in 2009.
One candy cane each for 1.76 billion people.
That’s the number of candy canes made each year in the United States alone, enough for each U.S. resident to enjoy more than five a piece.
The average person travels 275 miles for Christmas.
We’ll travel pretty far for Thanksgiving, even farther throughout the year for various trips, but even farther still for Christmas. The average American is expected to travel 275 miles to spend the holiday with the people they love.
93% of shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping.
Women use it even more so than men. In total, 90.8 percent of men surveyed by the NRF are expecting to take advantage of free online shipping services, whereas 95.3 percent of women intend to.
Free shipping matters for 47% of consumers.
According to the NRF, of those surveyed this year, 47 percent said that the availability of a free shipping option dictates where they’ll buy their gifts.
People spend 7x more on gifts for family members than co-workers.
It seems blood is thicker than water: Gifts for friends get one-fourth the expense of those for family.
26.3 million real trees were purchased in 2014.
That beats fake trees that year by about 10 million. To be fair, because they’re reusable, fake trees might adorn more U.S. homes, given purchases from years past.
UPS estimates it’ll ship 630 million packages this holiday season.
That’s just about two packages per U.S. resident. FedEx expects about half as many packages, at 317 million.
Men procrastinate on their shopping.
Women slightly outpace men on the gift-planning front. Before September, 9.3 percent of men had begun shopping for the holidays whereas 15.8 percent of women had started. The trend continues through October until men are making more purchases than women from November until the last two weeks of December.
Toy and game stores increase their staffs by 38%.
If you’re looking for a holiday gig, you’ll likely have the best luck at a toy, hobby or game store. These retailers bulk up the most in preparation for the biggest shopping season, adding 38.5 percent to their ranks, on average.
77% of people took advantage of deals for themselves.
“Treat yo’ self,” a concept made popular by “Parks and Recreation,” was exercised by 77 percent of shoppers last holiday season.
According to NRF data, 55.8 percent of respondents plan to splurge on non-gift items for themselves this year. Spending on such gifts will average $131.59 — a $5 increase from last year.
6 million Christmas trees come from Oregon.
Oregon is the most spirited … in terms of Christmas tree production. North Carolina comes in second place with 4.29 million trees harvested.
Looks like no one’s looking for a holiday palm tree — Hawaii harvests just 2,007 Christmas trees in total.
Spending on gifts surpasses food spending by 6x.
And that’s the second-largest purchase when combined with candy. Decorations, flowers and cards follow, but given that you can buy quite a few cards with $38.48, it’s not all that surprising.
21% of shoppers are going mobile.
Smartphones will play a role in how people buy gifts this year. Hello opportunities for mobile advertisers and retail apps.
The most cards are bought for Christmas, by far.
That said, Christmas is the biggest day for the holiday card companies. It trumps the number purchased for nearly every other holiday a card is appropriate for. Christmas cards purchased total 1.6 billion annually, that’s an average of roughly five cards per U.S. resident.
More than 50% of people actually want gift cards.
It usually feels like the cop-out gift, but 51.1 percent of men claim that’s their most-desired gift; for women that figure is 66.2 percent … and people think shopping for gifts is difficult.
150 million chocolate Santas are made annually.
Chocolate is a big holiday treat, and we’ve likely all seen or enjoyed a chocolate Santa. That’s because approximately 150 million are produced by chocolatiers every year, according to the National Confectioners Association.
U.S. retail sales will surpass GDP of 181 countries.
We won’t name them all here, but a lot of major countries make the list: Argentina, Sweden, Norway, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Iran, South African and Denmark. Estimates of 2015 U.S. holiday spending sit at $630.5 billion.
94% of Americans celebrate Christmas.
For every one American who celebrates Hanukkah, 14 celebrate Christmas. For Kwanzaa, that ratio is 1 to 49.
56% of shoppers look for deals.
Now all the promotional advertisement makes sense: over half of people are looking to take advantage of such deals, getting their gifts for below retail value.
Holiday spending will surpass pre-recession levels.
We’re spending a bit more on just about everything this year compared to every year dating back to 2004.
46% of holiday shopping will happen online.
It’s no surprise that the trend toward online shopping is increasing. What’s more surprising is that online shopping has not yet tipped the scale — the majority of shopping is still happening at physical stores, in-person.
33% of shopping is for clothing and accessories.
Queue the revenue for big-box retailers that carry clothing, accessories and more. We’ll be looking at the revenue uptick for Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and the like.
Christmas tree purchases peaked in 2013.
We spent $1.04 billion on Christmas trees last year. That was down from its highest point since the financial crisis, seen in 2013.
42 countries celebrate SantaCon.
Don’t be surprised by the mobs of red-and-white-clad individuals making pilgrimages to stores and bars in your town en masse. According to the official SantaCon website, 314 international locations pay tribute to Saint Nick in big public gatherings.
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