Just when you thought the holiday season could not become more trivialized, The City Wire now comes with a collection of trivia that is as interesting as it is useless, or vice versa. And please know that this trivial collection of trivia comes courtesy of a report from the U.S. Census Bureau — which comes courtesy of your tax dollars.
Enjoy. And Merry Christmas, and quit blocking the damn aisle!
• 20 billion — Pieces of mail the U.S. Postal Service expected to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. The busiest mailing day was expected to be Dec. 17, as more than three times the average daily volume of cards and letters were to have been mailed (more than 275 million versus 82 million).
• $30.5 billion — Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2007. This represented a 42 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered $21.5 billion). No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large.
• $23 billion — Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2007 — the highest total for any month last year.
• $493.3 million — Sales by U.S. Christmas tree farmers in 2007.
• $593.8 million — The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2008. 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 ($66.2 million worth) during the same period.
• $4.9 billion — The value of U.S. toy imports including stuffed toys (excluding dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China between January and August 2008. 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. These include roller skates ($42 million), sports footwear ($136 million), golf equipment ($638 million) and basketballs ($31 million). China leads Indonesia as the leading supplier of ice skates ($42 million versus $10 million), with Thailand ranking third ($9 million).