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Backstory: Counting on Christmas

Here's a yuletide yardstick of the 2006 season.

By Statistics compiled by Carol Huang / December 19, 2006

From 25-year-old fruitcake to the new PlayStation 3, Americans celebrate the holidays in their own way. Here's a yuletide yardstick of the 2006 season.

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Holiday spirit

87% – Americans who believe holidays should be more about family and caring for others, not giving and receiving gifts.

79% – Do not believe it's necessary to spend a lot of money in order to have a fulfilling and enjoyable holiday.


$457.4 billion – Expected holiday sales in 2006.

$435.6 billion – Holiday sales in 2005.

51.7 million – People who shopped online from work for holiday gifts in 2005.

60% –People who say they will spend about the same amount as they did last year.

23% – People who say they will spend less than last year.

16% – People who say they will spend more than last year.

$791 – Amount each consumer is expected to spend this year.

Of that...

$451.34 – Will be spent on family.

$99.22 – On himself or herself.

$85.60 – On friends.

$22.40 – On co-workers.

$44.52 – On people like clergy, teachers, and baby sitters.

$30.57 – On greeting cards and postage.

Hot items

55.2% – People who want books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games as gifts.

53.3% – Want clothing or accessories.

52.8% – Want gift cards.

Top 2006 toys for boys – TMX Elmo, cars, PlayStation 3, video games, LEGOS, Nintendo DS, Hot Wheels, Xbox 360, remote-controlled cars, trucks.

Top 2006 toys for girls – Dolls, Bratz, TMX Elmo, Dora the Explorer, Disney Princess, iPod/MP3 players, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3.

Nuttier than a...

47% – People who say they'd toss a holiday fruitcake in the trash without delay.

11% – People who say they would make time to regift a fruitcake.

1:1 – The ratio of the density of the average fruitcake to the density of mahogany.

25 – Number of years that fruitcakes can age and still be enjoyed, as long as they have the right preservatives and are stored in tightly closed tins.

2,952 – Pounds of fruitcake delivered to US troops in Iraq for the holidays.


$15.8 billion – Amount spent on new holiday decorations in 2005.

Top decorations – Candles, party paraphernalia, garlands, roping, swags, ribbons, poinsettias, Christmas tree ornaments.

Scotch pine vs. Scotch plastic

32.8 million – Real Christmas trees sold in 2005.

9.3 million – Artificial ones sold in 2005.

$41.90 – Average cost of a real Christmas tree in 2005.

$72.20 – Average cost of an artificial Christmas tree in 2005.

22 million – Households that do not plan to have a Christmas tree this year.

7 – Years required to grow a tree to a retail height of 6 to 7 feet.

Top-selling trees – Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine, and white pine.