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Facts for Features: The 2013 Holiday Season

Press Release Number CB13-FF.28

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift 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.

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

The holidays are quickly approaching, but this year Hanukkah is closer than you think. That's because for the first time since 1888, the first full day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. This year Hanukkah, which usually begins in December, begins Nov. 27 at sundown and ends Dec. 5. Expect your traditional latkes to be served with a side of turkey and stuffing during this year's Festival of Lights. The next time Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide in this fashion will be in approximately 76,000 years. The reason is that the Jewish calendar is slowly getting out-of-sync with the solar calendar at a rate of four days per 1,000 years. This means that the calendar will continuously drift forward through the Gregorian calendar and eventually loop around.


Estimated proportion of the nation's potatoes produced in Idaho and Washington during the fall of 2012. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.
Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service, Crop Production, Page 57
//usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/nass/CropProdSu/2010s/2013/CropProdSu-01-11-2013.pdf [PDF - 1.2 MB]

$1.4 billion

The estimated value of product shipments of candles in 2011 by U.S. manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Survey of Manufacturers,

Rush to the Stores

$25.9 billion

Estimated retail sales by the nation's department stores (including leased departments) in December 2012. This represents an estimated 39.3 percent jump from the previous month when retail sales were estimated at 18.6 billion. No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Business and Industry 

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 and inventory estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.


The estimated percentage of total 2012 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the estimated percentage was 20.5 percent.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Business and Industry


The estimated growth in inventories by our nation's department stores (excluding leased departments) from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2012.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Business and Industry

$39.2 billion

Estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2012 ─ the highest total for any month last year.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Business and Industry


The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2011. These businesses, which employed 321,481workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts (NAICS code 45411).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Fact Finder, Table CB1000A1

Christmas Trees and Decorations

$1.0 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2013. 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 ($93.0 million worth) during the same period.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics

Where the Toys are ... Made


Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2011. California led the nation with 10 locations.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS code 339931,


The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys and children's vehicles in 2011; they employed 7,187 workers. California led the nation with 88 establishments.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County Business Patterns, NAICS code 339932,

Nearly 15 billion

Pieces of mail the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. The busiest mailing day is set for Dec.16, and Dec. 18 will be the busiest delivery day.
Source: U.S. Postal Service

The following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series:

Black (African American) History Month (February)
Super Bowl
Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
Women's History Month (March)
Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
      St. Patrick's Day (March 17)
Earth Day (April 22)
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Older Americans Month (May)
Mother's Day
Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
Father's Day
The Fourth of July (July 4)
Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
Back to School (August)
Labor Day
Grandparents Day
Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
Unmarried and Single Americans Week
Halloween (Oct. 31)
American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
Thanksgiving Day
The Holiday Season (December)

Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; or e-mail: pio@census.gov.


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